It’s that time of year again. Everyone is a college basketball fan in March. From a completely non-objective standpoint, we’re helping you pick what teams to root for, today until the Final Four in Houston.
We are finally here. March Madness starts today. This is the Super Bowl for Good Men Picks. Well, actually, the Super Bowl was the Super Bowl, but you know what we mean. This is a really important time for us.
Out of principle we won’t be picking any 16-seeds because we don’t want to be that guy who picks a 16-seed every year with the hopes that he’ll go down as the guy that called “the biggest upset of all time,” not realizing that the points you’re sacrificing actually make you a complete idiot.
But, other than that, we’re picking the games based on what we want to see happen. From a completely non-objective standpoint, we’re helping you pick what teams to root for from today until the championship on April 4 in Houston.
We’ve picked every game and laid out our unsubstantiated reasoning. And please, whatever you do, do not put any money behind these picks. By all means, carry the bracket around so you know whom to root for. But do not put your financial well-being to be at the mercy of these picks.
You’ve been warned.
First eight out: University of Texas-San Antonio, Villanova, Kentucky, Clemson, Marquette, Indiana State, Washington, Long Island
Round of 32
- (8) George Mason over (1) Ohio State: Yep, the favorites are going down in the second round. In case you didn’t know, George Mason was one of the “Founding Fathers.” If you don’t root for them, you’re not American! Oh, and Jim Tressel kind of ruined this one for OSU.
- (5) West Virginia over (13) Princeton: The Tigers’ run ends here. They disposed of Kentucky because we’ll never root for John Calipari. But the Ivy boys are no match for a coach who kisses his own players on the court.
- (6) Xavier over (3) Syracuse: As much as we love guys named after “things you can do with a shovel,” Xavier moves on. With Ohio State losing, Xavier needs to advance. Ohio basketball fans have suffered enough. See, I do have a heart … sometimes.
- (2) North Carolina over (10 Georgia): We felt bad for Georgia’s coach Mark Fox after he called a timeout that should’ve cost his team a spot in the tournament, but it ends here. You know already know how we feel about Harrison Barnes.
- (5) West Virginia over (8) George Mason: One thing we forgot to mention about George Mason: although he abhorred slavery, he still owned slaves. Contradictions have no place in the Elite Eight.
- (2) North Carolina over (6) Xavier: Although we’ve seen more than enough of John Boehner crying, that’s not enough to keep us from putting UNC’s kids through to the Regional Finals.
- (2) North Carolina over (5) West Virginia: This is one of the few years when you can root for UNC without being a complete front-runner. Any time you can stick it to Duke without totally selling yourself out, you have to do it, right?
First eight out: Hampton, Tennessee, Memphis, Texas, Cincinnati, Bucknell, Penn State, Northern Colorado
Round of 32
- (1) Duke over (8) Michigan: Wait, what? A chance for revenge? And we’re passing? Did we even watch the Fab Five documentary? Yes, we saw it, but be patient. The only time we ever pick Duke to win is for our own sadistic, personal pleasure. Just wait …
- (5) Arizona over (13) Oakland: For some reason, we just like Arizona. They’re on that second tier, just below the great programs: always an under-dog but never really one. Plus, their starting point guard is named Momo. Please and thank you.
- (11) Missouri over (3) UConn: Jim Calhoun’s delayed suspension needs to start as soon as possible. Just, please beat Bucknell first.
- (2) San Diego State over (10) Temple: Temple makes it through after Penn State tried to single-handedly destroy the sport of basketball forever. But that run stops here. You also know how we feel about SDSU.
- (1) Duke over (5) Arizona: Yes, I just said that we really like Arizona. And yes, we’ve stated our strong dislike for all things Dook, but you want them to win this one. I would never tell anyone to trust someone as completely unstable and untrustworthy as I am, but seriously, trust me.
- (2) San Diego State over (11) Missouri: Missouri’s “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” style is based off of Arkansas’ early-90’s “40 minutes of hell” game plan. We just can not bring ourselves to advance any team that takes its playing cues from the Lord of the Underworld.
- (2) San Diego State over Duke: This is the real revenge for Duke beating the Fab Five in the 1992 championship game. Steve Fisher was the coach of Michigan back then, and now he’s the head man at An Diego State. Seriously, would there be anything better than seeing Fisher knock out Krysweski and friends en route to Houston? Well, maybe Duke losing in the first round, but that’s never gonna happen.
First eight out: Boston, Illinois, Richmond, Louisville, VCU, St. Peter’s, Texas A&M, Akron
Round of 32
- (1) Kansas over (8) UNLV: If it’s possible to feel bad for a No. 1 seed, we felt bad for Kansas last year. Now, if they lose in the second round again, the Morris twins will probably just quit basketball all together. No longer able to cope with the stresses of the round ball, they’ll refuse the millions waiting in the NBA and become giant twin ventriloquists. Or something like that.
- (5) Vanderbilt over (13) Morehead State: C’mon. Obviously we were gonna put Morehead State through at least one round. But two rounds of Morehead are more than enough. On goes Vandy.
- (3) Purdue over (6) Georgetown: Robbie Hummel, Purdue’s 15th-year senior, missed last year’s NCAA tournament due to injury, and he’s missed this entire season with a torn ACL. Formerly the team’s star, now he just sits on the bench and looks goofy in dress clothes. College basketball needs more of that.
- (2) Notre Dame over (10) Florida State: It’s a rematch of that time Notre Dame and Florida State played … like six years ago. Except that was football. We can’t get excited for this match-up, but we’re going with the Domers because we like Ben Hansbrough better than his brother.
- (5) Vanderbilt over (1) Kansas: Although they play on the most pointlessly dangerous court in the world, we’re going with Vandy. They’re the annual undervalued top-five seed that everyone picks against, which just makes us want to pick them. Plus, they have a little white guy that can do this.
- (3) Purdue over (2) Notre Dame: Notre Dame is one of only seven teams in the tournament field that has a 100-percent graduation rate. Congrats guys, but we’re not picking you. Purdue graduated both the first and the last guys to walk on the moon. If that isn’t enough of a reason to root for them, then you’re clearly not interested in the history of lunar travel. And you should probably stop reading.
- (3) Purdue over (5) Vanderbilt: This is far enough for Vanderbilt. It’ll be their longest run since 1965, and that’s nothing to scoff at. But we really want to see Hummel in the Final Four, even if he isn’t playing. He’s been screwed by injuries two years in a row. It sucks to know that you can do something, but to also know you’ll never get a chance to. Hopefully, the Boilermakers can bring him to Houston.
First eight out: UNC-Ashville, Old Dominion, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, BYU, UCLA, UC–Santa Barbara
Round of 32
- (1) Pittsburgh over (9) Butler: The Bulldogs had their fun last year. Pittsburgh should move on. If they lose this one, Jamie Dixon will go bald immediately after he shakes hands with Brad Stevens. And I don’t think anyone wants to see what Jaime Dixon looks like without hair.
- (12) Utah State over (13) Belmont: Two words: Wild Bill.
- (6) St. John’s over (14) Wofford: After avenging their 2000 first-round loss to Gonzaga that only I remember, the Johnnies advance past Woe-ferd. Steve Lavin wears sneakers and slicks his hair back. And he might’ve revitalized a once-dominant basketball program. He’s going to the Sweet 16.
- (10) Michigan State over (2) Florida: The Gators got a seed they don’t deserve and were put in the easiest possible region. We’re all about fairness here, so the obvious choice is to put a Michigan State team through that hasn’t really done anything this year other than kick guys off the team and be really underwhelming. This game makes me feel sick.
- (1) Pittsburgh over (12) Utah State: It would be perfect if Pittsburgh lost this game. The field has opened up for them—no seeds higher than a six between the Panthers and the Final Four. They haven’t been to the Final Four since World War II and Jamie Dixon has never made it. This is a game they would lose. But they won’t, says a little thing called destiny.
- (6) St. John’s over (10) Michigan State: Every year we hear about what a great coach Tom Izzo is and how you should never pick against him in March. Whatever. Steve Lavin and Jamie Dixon’s gorgeous hairdos are destined to meet in the Regional Final.
- (1) Pittsburgh over (6) St. John’s: It’s the match-up preordained by the heavens. The two greasiest, slickest, and, really, most beautiful heads of hair in college basketball meet. It’s too early for Lavin, though. If he makes it to Houston, he’s bound to fail under the absurd expectations every New Yorker—including myself—will put on the program. Plus, this will save us from the annual tradition of “Will Jamie Dixon ever make the Final Four?”
- (2) San Diego State over (2) North Carolina: Yes, we love Harrison Barnes and the young Tar Heels, but it would just be way too cruel if they knocked out the Aztecs a game before the championship. Steve Fisher continues his redemption tour and beats the team he lost to in the 1993 National Championship.
- (3) Purdue over (1) Pittsburgh: Next year: “Will Jamie Dixon ever make it to the National Championship?”
- (2) San Diego State over (3) Purdue:
A Hummel-less Purdue winning the national title would be a great story, but it comes nowhere near what a San Diego State title would mean. Steve Fisher finally gets over the hump. He couldn’t win it all with the most talented team in the history of college basketball, but he does it with a bunch on no-names that no other schools wanted. He completes the turnaround after a 5-23 season in his first year at San Diego State. He wins six NCAA tournament games—six more than the Aztecs have ever won.
As I’ve said, San Diego State feels like a team that’s ranked too high. They’re 32-2, but they don’t play in a major conference. They’ve lost two games to the hardest team on their schedule. They just feel like a team that’s bound to drop out early. They’re set up for a sudden fall. It’d be nice to see them win, but you just can’t see it happening.
But those are the best teams to root for. Every win is unexpected. And even after they win, and win again, you still can’t talk yourself into it. The better they do, the more you doubt them. But then they keep proving you wrong and, in the end, make you believe in something you were sure would never happen.
And if San Diego State could possibly do that, why wouldn’t we pick them?
Click to see the full Good Men Picks bracket.
—Photos AP/Lenny Ignelzi; Gerry Broome; Laura Rauch