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Once again, the Beachwood is applying its tried-and-true theories to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (let's face it, there's not enough money in the women's pool) for both entertainment and wagering purposes. We will update our crystal ball with fresh insights before each and every round.
Just as we predicted.
# 1 Florida vs. #1 Ohio State
In a battle of electoral battlegrounds, Florida faces a stiff challenge by upstart Ohio State but defends its title once again with late returns off the bench.
It's time to play Bracket Boggle, wherein the last names of the starting five players of each team are used as the template for a two-minute word-building spree based on the popular board game. Teams are evaluated based on total word count and longest word constructed in the allotted time. No provisions are made for disparity in total number of letters - hey, it's not our fault they recruited guys with short last names. Here are the results:
#1 Florida vs. #2 UCLA
Florida total letters: 30
Florida words formed: 17
Longest word: GREENER, 7 letters
UCLA total letters: 34
UCLA words formed: 20
UCLA longest word: UNFLAPPABLE, 11 letters
Florida has a big handicap in this match-up. Their roster is completely devoid of S's. Without this vital add-on, it's impossible to milk shorter words for their plural forms. Still, the defending champs faired well and produced such spirited terms as REFORM, BUMPER, WEED and GROPE.
UCLA, on the other hand, lacks the equally important auxiliary letters R and D. Without them, simple verb forms lack their participles and adjectives languish without hope of intensification. This makes their narrow total word haul victory all the more remarkable. Add to that evocative phrasing like HUMBLE, COLLISION, OUST and FASTEST and you have all the makings of an upset. UNFLAPPABLE, indeed.
#1 Ohio State vs. #2 Georgetown
Ohio State total letters: 27
Ohio State words formed: 18
Ohio State longest word: COLORISTS, 9 letters
Georgetown total letters: 30
Georgetown words formed: 25
Longest word: Tie between GREASIEST and ENGINEERS, both with 9 letters
Ohio State may have the most sought-after big man in the college game, but there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do with ODEN. Basically, you get DONE and then you're, well, done. And so are the Buckeyes.
Let's face it, this year's tourney has sorely lacked for upsets. The lone break in bracket form is #3 Oregon sneaking through the Midwest regional. At this point, the clock has struck midnight and Cinderella is officially back scrubbing floors. So instead of picking the true shocker, we're evaluating the Elite Eight match-ups based on the average height of the usual starting five. Shorter team gets the nod. Hey, it's not much, but in a game of inches it's the best we could come up with.
#1 Florida vs. #3 Oregon
With an average height of 78.4 inches, Florida is tied for the second-tallest team left in the tourney. Meanwhile, at an average height of 74.8 inches, Oregon is the shortest team by a good 6 centimeters. The Ducks also boast the tiniest individual player remaining in the draw with dinky little 5' 6" Tajuan Porter. The smart money might back the Gators, but the tape leans strongly the other way.
#1 Kansas vs. #2 UCLA
This one is going to be close. Less than an inch separates the two teams. However, despite boasting the tallest player on the floor with 6' 11" Sasha Kaun, Kansas still slides just under UCLA's 77.6" average with a tidy 77 inches.
#1 North Carolina vs. #2 Georgetown
The Hoyas are a bunch of behemoths. With the tallest average height (79") left in the draw and the tallest remaining player in massive 7' 2" Roy Hibbert, Georgetown looks set to be steamrolled by UNC's elfin 77.8" average stature.
Pick: North Carolina
#1 Ohio State vs. #2 Memphis
Despite seven-foot manchild Greg Odom, the Buckeyes are remarkably undersized. Their average altitude of 77.2 inches should match up well with Memphis's across-the-board stretchiness of 78.4 inches.
Pick: Ohio State
It's time to compare the coaches head-to-head based on the only stat that really matters: date of birth.
#1 Florida vs. #5 Butler
Billy Donovan, DOB 5/30/1965 vs. Todd Lickliter, DOB 4/17/1955
As far as the Chinese zodiac is concerned, Donovan is a snake and Lickliter is the goat. Yeah, that seems about right.
#3 Oregon vs. #7 UNLV
Ernie Kent, DOB 1/22/1955 vs. Lon Kruger, DOB 8/19/1952
Ernie Kent is a double-cusper, wavering right on the edge between Capricorn and Aquarius and Horse and Goat. Lon Kruger is all kinds of shifty, going so far as to recruit his own degree-bearing son in hopes of winning a national title. Against that type of single-minded ambition, Kent's indecisiveness will do him in.
#1 Kansas vs. #4 SIU
Bill Self, DOB 12/27/1962 vs. Chris Lowery, DOB 7/7/1972
Both the Western zodiac and the Chinese zodiac have elements linked to them. Both of Chris Lowery's charts put him under the influence of the water element. As inherently lucky as a 7/7 birthday is, eventually all that water has to be flushed.
#2 UCLA vs. #3 Pittsburgh
Ben Howland, DOB 5/28/1957 vs. Jamie Dixon, DOB 11/10/1965
The numerology is tight, but follow the arithmetic: 1+1+1+0+1+9+6+5=29. 2+9=11. 1+1=2. Meanwhile, 5+2+8+1+9+5+7=37. 3+7=10. 1+0=1. And that's exactly how they'll finish.
#1 North Carolina vs. #5 Southern California
Roy Williams, DOB 8/1/1950 vs. Tim Floyd, DOB 2/25/1954
We could go into all sorts of astrological details here, but come on. It's Tim Floyd.
Pick: North Carolina
#2 Georgetown vs. #6 Vanderbilt
John Thompson III, DOB 3/11/1966 vs. Kevin Stallings, DOB 10/1/1960
Three is a pretty lucky number, and you have to sort of figure multiples of three are even more so. For sheer volume of threes and digits divisible by three, John Thompson blows Kevin Stalling out of the water. He doesn't even need the extra III at the end of his name.
#1 Ohio State vs. #5 Tennessee
Thad Matta, DOB 7/11/1967 vs. Bruce Pearl, DOB 3/18/1960
They call it March Madness, not July Jubilee. Sorry, Thad.
#2 Memphis vs. #3 Texas A&M
John Calipari, DOB 2/10/1959 vs. Billy Gillispie, DOB 11/7/1959
Expect this one to be close; the coaches were born a mere 290 days apart and there's not much to choose between them. However, our research shows that Calipari's birthday has, on average, 16 minutes more daylight than Gillispie's. And hey, who doesn't like a little extra sunshine?
We move on to the traditional Battle of the Awesome Names.
#1 Florida vs. #9 Purdue
Florida has emerged as a true powerhouse in the wake of last year's championship. They've beefed up their Awesome Name roster considerably with the addition of freshman Marreese Speights. We're not quite sure how either name is pronounced, but every scenario we've come up with is pretty freakin' cool. Plus, the last name has that hidden "eight" thing we love so much. Sorry, Tarrance Crump. You and the rest of the Boilermakers will have to watch the Sweet 16 from the bench this year.
#2 Wisconsin vs. #7 UNLV
This could get ugly. We've got nothing against Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft, but he just doesn't have the chops to take on the Rebels' Jo'Van "Wink" Adams. He's right up there with Pops Mensah-Bonsu on the Awesome Names first ballot Hall of Fame list.
#3 Oregon vs. #11 Winthrop
We're a little disappointed with Winthrop. If you're going to compete at this level, you've got to do better than Rainer Blickle. That's just not going to cut it against a smooth, pro-caliber name like Oregon's LeKendric Longmire. It's punchy. It's alliterative. It's not that hard to pronounce. The Eagles are simply outmatched here.
#4 Maryland vs. #5 Butler
Butler will be hard-pressed to counter the attack of a particularly strong Maryland roster, boasting notable awesome handles such as Bambale Osby and D.J. Strawberry. Frankly, we don't think Elliot Engelmann is up to the task.
#1 Kansas vs. #8 Kentucky
Kentucky's Lukasz Obrzut would like to beat you into submission with extraneous consonants, but he'll be no match for Kansas's Brady Morningstar. Combining the power and accuracy of a three-time Super Bowl champion with the stability of a trusted financial firm, Morningstar could take the Jayhawks all the way.
#2 UCLA vs. #7 Indiana
UCLA has returned a number of its stars, including last year's Awesome Name runner-up Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. We're not sure LRMaM has enough in the tank to go one better this year, but he can certainly handle the Hoosiers' Roderick Wilmont.
#3 Pittsburgh vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth
We're fully on the VCU bandwagon now, having seen them dispatch Duke in the first round. We have no doubt the exuberantly-named Franck Ndongo will prevail over Pittsburgh's Geoff Rizk.
Pick: Virginia Commonwealth
#4 Southern Illinois vs. #5 Virginia Tech
This is shaping up to be a tight contest between Southern Illinois's Christian Cornelius and Virginia Tech's Zabian Dowdell. In fact, it's so close that we've had to go to the official Awesome Name tie breaker, Awesome Hometown Name. Sorry, Salukis, but Dowdell's Pahokee, Fla., is way cooler than Oak Park.
Pick: Virginia Tech
#1 North Carolina vs. #9 Michigan State
There's some beautiful music being made on the UNC roster. Surry Wood. Dewey Burke. They have their own peppy, upbeat rhythm. But come on now. The Spartans have Idong Ibok. The name sounds like something you might see in a nature documentary on PBS. And when the slower, weaker Ibok inevitably gets hunted down by a tiger, you're going to cry, because Iboks are beautiful, majestic creatures and you can genuinely identify with their plight. It's a name that makes you want to whip out your checkbook and drop a dime on the Sierra Club or something. It's one hell of a name, folks.
Pick: Michigan State
#2 Georgetown vs. #7 Boston College
Boston College sent a message to the rest of the field when they loaded their roster with Akida McLain. This team came to play. Unfortunately, they face the polished assault of Georgetown's Octavius (Tay) Spann in the second round. It's a really hard match-up for the Eagles; Even if you cover his full name, his nickname is just as awesome. Expect the Hoyas to prevail in this one.
#3 Washington State vs. #6 Vanderbilt
This is college basketball, and unless you've got a guy with the last name Fitch it's going to be pretty hard to counter Washington State's Thomas Abercrombie. Vanderbilt is further weakened by JeJuan Brown's spelling proximity to "jejune"; certainly not the sort of association a team wants in these circumstances.
Pick: Washington State
#4 Texas vs. #5 Southern California
Wow, it's a good thing these teams face each other in the Awesome Names round. Otherwise, both would be steamrolled. Both names are fairly pedestrian, but we'll give the narrowest advantage to Texas' Dexter Pittman over Southern Cal's RouSean Cromwell.
#1 Ohio State vs. #9 Xavier
OSU's roster isn't overwhelming, but there's a certain delight in saying the name Matt Terwilliger. Sure, it's not the most original moniker out there, but what it lacks in flash it more than makes up for in sheer joy. You have to smile as you say it. Tougher opponents lurk just down the bracket, but for now the Buckeyes should be safe against Xavier's anemic Johnny Wolf.
Pick: Ohio State
#2 Memphis vs. #7 Nevada
Memphis' Chance McGrady was born in the wrong era. If this were the Wild West and he were a shadowy gunslinger, the outcome of this battle would never be in question. If this were World War 1 and someone needed a hard-drinking daredevil to lead a platoon into No-Man's Land, you wouldn't have to look further than Chance. But this is the Big Dance, and we just don't know if Chance has enough to handle the likes of Nevada's Nick Fezekas and Curry Lynch.
#3 Texas A&M vs. #6 Louisville
When it comes to brute name force, no one can compete with the Lithuanians. A&M boasts syllablicious senior Antanas Kavaliauskas, determined to graduate in style. Even the smoothly-dubbed Juan Palacios of Louisville can't compete with the barrage of vowels Kavaliauskas can deliver.
Pick: Texas A&M
#4 Virginia vs. #5 Tennessee
This head-to-head has all the markings of a lost weekend in Vegas as Virginia's Solomon Tat takes on Tennessee's Tanner Wild. And while we've certainly seen our fair share of wild self-tanners, they do wash off eventually. A tat lasts forever.
#1 Florida vs. #16 Jackson State
We have only one hard and fast rule here at the Beachwood: If the name of your institution contains the word "State," the rest of the title must include the name of an actual state. There is no state called Jackson.
#2 Wisconsin vs. #15 Texas A&M Corpus Christi
The Badgers win over Christ's dead body.
#3 Oregon vs. #14 Miami (Ohio) University
Miami is wandering awfully close to non-state State territory. After all, there isn't actually a place called "Miami" in Ohio.
#4 Maryland vs. #13 Davidson
It's the man who slew Goliath against Jesus' mom. While it's temping to take the legendary giant slayer, we've got to back the good virgin on this one. Come on, people. She gave birth to the son of God.
#5 Butler vs. #12 Old Dominion
In the Antebellum social hierarchy match-up, the help will yield to the status quo.
Pick: Old Dominion
#6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Winthrop
Notre Dame is a dream note. Winthrop is a torn whip. Notre Dame is not remade. Winthrop knows how print. In the Great Anagram battle of 2007, expect Notre Dame to deter moan, while Winthrop tries to throw pin in frustration.
Pick: Notre Dame
#7 UNLV vs. #10 Georgia Tech
Dudes, Las Vegas defeated the entire NBA during All-Star Weekend. Do you really think Georgia Tech has a chance?
#8 Arizona vs. #9 Purdue
There's about five million people in the state of Arizona. Meanwhile, there's some 70 million native speakers of Urdu. The numbers don't lie.
#1 Kansas vs. #16 Niagara
In paper-scissors-rock, tornadoes beat falls. If Niagra were Viagra, it'd be a tougher call.
#2 UCLA vs. #15 Weber State
Here we go again. Somebody point to Weber on the map. No? Thought so.
#3 Pittsburgh vs. #3 Wright State
Oh, that's where Weber is. Right next to Wright.
#4 Southern Illinois vs. #13 Holy Cross
There's an awful lot of carbon in the world, and not just in Carbondale. The element's status as the primary building block of all known life should ensure a speedy pass to the second round.
#5 Virginia Tech vs. #12 Illinois
Everybody wants to see the Illini make it to the next round to see the dream match-up between Southern Illinois and, you know, real Illinois. Unfortunately, Virginia Tech has faster servers.
Pick: Virginia Tech
#6 Duke vs. #11 VCU
Royalty still beats nouveau riche venture capitalistists in a world not ready for meritocracy.
#7 Indiana vs. #10 Gonzaga
History says Gonzaga will be able to pull off the opening round upset. Besides, they have better drugs.
#8 Kentucky vs. #9 Villanova
By the Superior Scrabble Score Rule, Kentucky with its two 5-point "K"s will prevail over Villanova's weaker pair of 4-point "V"s.
#1 North Carolina vs. #16 Eastern Kentucky
Another one of our golden rules: If you have the choice between a part of a state and a whole state, you should probably take the whole state. And North Carolina is actually an entire state.
Pick: North Carolina
#2 Georgetown vs. #15 Belmont
You know, the Belmont has got to be the least compelling of the Triple Crown events. It's either totally anticlimactic because the Derby and the Preakness have been won by different horses, or it sets up to be the biggest let-down on the sporting calendar. Even if you luck out and get one of those unbelievably rare years where the Belmont fulfills its promise, the thing only last a couple of minutes. Like bad sex.
#3 Washington State vs. #14 Oral Roberts
The evolutionary clockwork of the Cougars' offense versus the intelligently-designed Golden Eagles. Teach the controversy!
Pick: Washington State
#4 Texas vs. #13 New Mexico State
Old Mexico State has a strong track record of successfully eluding Texas' defenses, but New Mexico State's good neighbor policy is no way to win a basketball game.
#5 Southern California vs. #12 Arkansas
We know that you know that we're thinking of ways to wiggle out of the partial state rule on this one. But you know what? Just to prove we're serious about this, we're not budging. Live by the partial state rule, die by the partial state rule.
#6 Vanderbilt vs. #11 George Washington
Never bet against the father of our country. That's like betting against Jesus' mom.
Pick: George Washington
#7 Boston College vs. #10 Texas Tech
Texas Tech has superior site tools but the Luddite Bobby Knight doesn't know how to use them.
Pick: Boston College
#8 Marquette vs. #9 Michigan State
The team from the Marquette Inn restaurant on Madison is the sentimental Cinderella pick, but their run ends here.
Pick: Michigan State
#1 Ohio State vs. #16 Central Connecticut State
Wow, Central Connecticut gets the double whammy - a partial and made-up state. Look for a thrashing.
Pick: Ohio State
#2 Memphis vs. #15 North Texas
Did someone redraw America when we weren't looking? North Texas is no North Dakota.
#3 Texas A&M vs. #14 Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is in the Ivy League. A&M is a record label.
Pick: Texas A&M
#4 Virginia vs. #13 Albany
We're bullish on Albania these days. Sure, Morocco might beat it into the European Union, but so what? Norway and Switzerland aren't in either and they do alright for themselves. Albania has a nice stretch of coastline on the Adriatic, it's close to Greece and Italy and it has a totally bitchin' flag. Sure, most of its other neighbors are bat-shit crazy, but are you really going to judge a country by the company it keeps?
#5 Tennessee vs. #12 Long Beach
Excessive letters are a well known cause of greenhouse gases, which tend to destroy beaches.
#6 Louisville vs. #11 Stanford
Ask any Detroit Lions fan, they'll tell you; you can never trust a Ford involved in high-profile athletic events. We don't know Stan personally, but his family pedigree is shady.
#7 Nevada vs. #10 Creighton
It would be easy to go with form on this one, but we like Creighton. We just like the name. It's fun to say. It has the word "eight" stuck in the middle of it. Besides, if it can break that whole silly i-before-e rule (our least-favorite), it can bust a bracket or two.
#8 Brigham Young vs. #9 Xavier
Xavier could stand to learn a thing or two about manners. At least Brigham Young has the decency to present both his first and last name. Who are you, Xavier? Prince? Cher? Madonna? We don't think so.
Pick: Brigham Young
Florida A&M vs. Niagara
This boils down to the battle of the Marilyn Monroe movies; the sultry, Miami-set rom-com Some Like It Hot against the tense, nourish thriller Niagara. SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT: If you haven't seen either film (and you really ought to see them; they're both great), skip down to the winner. Some Like It Hot features gangland murders, bootlegging and cross-dressing. Niagara is in color. Some Like It Hot features Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis at the height of their comedic strengths. Niagara features Joseph Cotton a long freaking way from The Third Man. Monroe sings in SLIH. She stays pretty quiet in Niagara. SLIH has just about the best closing line in big-screen history. But come on. Niagara kills off Cotton's jealous husband/PTSD vet by shipping him over the falls in a leaky boat. It's so over-the-top it leaves you breathless. Sorry, Florida A&M. Nobody's perfect.