NCAA Tournament picks: The entertainment edition


It was a chilly March day in 1987. I remember jumping off the school bus and running inside to check on the Missouri score. As I opened the door, I noticed my dad turning off the TV …

“How’d they do, Dad?” I asked.

“Not good, son. They lost to Xavier,” he said.

“Who?” I asked, beginning to tear up.

“Xavier. It’s a small school in Ohio,” he said.

I remember crying for several minutes. That was my first experience with the NCAA Tournament, as a disappointed 10-year-old whose team wasn’t going to make a run to the Final Four.

Twenty-five years later, the Tigers still haven’t made a run to the Final Four. They’ve been close a few times (Elite Eights in 1994, 2002 and 2009). More often than not, they’ve disappointed or had their hearts broken (Tyus Edney’s mad dash in 1995, Maurice Newby’s 25-footer footer in 1990).

That explains why, in a season filled with promise and a team loaded with moxie, that it makes me cringe when the experts at ESPN, Yahoo!, Sporting News and CBS pick Missouri to reach its first Final Four.

Hell, I even put Missouri in New Orléans on my brackets. It’s the first time in 20 years it actually makes sense.

Who else do I have in the Final Four? Kentucky, Ohio State and North Carolina.

Here are my first-round picks, done in the pop culture/hodgepodge/pure nonsense format many of you (OK, about seven of you) enjoyed in the good old days of 2011:


KENTUCKY: Like AC/DC, Kentucky is the biggest badass of them all and the prohibitive favorite to win the national title.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: Not that the Hilltoppers sucks as much as the Backstreet Boys. Hell, let’s be honest, they’re 16-18. They suck.

WINNER: Kentucky, by 200.

IOWA STATE: Just as Patton Oswalt hasn’t been funny for a long time (maybe ever), the Cyclones haven’t played well of late.

UCONN: Much like Chris Brown, I expect the Huskies to beat the tar out of the Clones.

WINNER: Connecticut.

WICHITA STATE: As Kansas said, VCU will be dust in the wind.

VIRGINIA COMMOMWEALTH: Shaka Smart has to be related to Shock G from Digital Underground.

WINNER: Wichita State.

INDIANA: John Cougar Mellencamp is from Indiana, which was “Crumblin’ Down” before Tom Crean arrived.

NEW MEXICO STATE: Stretching it here, but the pickins are slim in New Mexico, home state of Neil Patrick Harris, star of two comedy series.

WINNER: Indiana.

UNLV: Could it be anybody other than Vegas legend Wayne Newton?

COLORADO: John Denver and his “Rocky Mountain High” still plays on those 3 a.m. infomercials, though in this game Colorado will resemble John Denver the pilot.


BAYLOR: If you’ve read this blog, you know I’m a huge fan of Scott Drew, who reminds me of Jeff Dunham, the overrated hack comic (also a Baylor grad).

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: Dunham is to Baylor what George Lopez is to comedy, even worse. Painfully unfunny man.

WINNER: Baylor.

NOTRE DAME: Think Joe Pesci the rapper, not the actor.

XAVIER: Think Robert Romanus, as in Mike Damone from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Romanus is a former Muskateer.

WINNER: Xavier.

DUKE: Never has a coach looked more like Remy from “Ratatouille.”

LEHIGH: Again, slim pickins, as in Ralph Malph from “Happy Days.” Don Most, who portrayed Ralph, attended Lehigh. Like I said, slim pickins.


REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: Kentucky, Wichita State, Baylor and Duke.

REGIONAL FINAL: Kentucky over Duke.


MICHIGAN STATE: Tom Izzo is “The Godfather.”

LIU-BROOKLYN: The Blackbirds are Khartoum (the horse).

WINNER: Michigan State.

MEMPHIS: This isn’t the slick Elvis-like Memphis of the mid- to late 2000s. More like the Fat Elvis of the mid- to late 1970s.

ST. LOUIS: If there’s ever a movie about Rick Majerus, it’s too bad John Candy’s not around to play the role.

WINNER: St. Louis.

NEW MEXICO: We haven’t heard much from native Demi Moore, much like we won’t hear much from the Lobos in this tournament.

LONG BEACH STATE: Think Snoop Dogg the actor. Even as an actor, Snoop is bad-ass.

WINNER: The LBC (er S).

LOUISVILLE: Speaking of “The Godfather,” Rick Pitino reminds me of the quick-tempered and unfaithful Sonny Corleone.

DAVIDSON: Alumnae Laeta Kalogridis was a producer for the movie “Avatar,” which I haven’t seen and don’t plan to any time soon.

WINNER: Louisville

MURRAY STATE: The national media’s darling story, just like “Hoosiers.”

COLORADO STATE: The Rams are a little like the Wolverines from “Red Dawn,” which as filmed in Colorado. Things didn’t work out all that great for the Wolverines.

WINNER: Murray State

MARQUETTE: Buzz Williams really should get a casting call as Curly from The Three Stooges.

BYU: Alumnus Aaron Eckhart was Harvey Dent in “The Dark Knight.” Seems fitting, considering his team was two-faced on its play-in game (down 25 in the first half, ended up winning).

WINNER: Marquette.

FLORIDA: Billy Donovan is Joe Pesci, the actor.

VIRGINIA: Think Count of Monte Christo, back essentially from the dead.

WINNER: Florida

MISSOURI: Counted out so many times, especially this year, but making a comeback, like Mickey Rourke.

NORFOLK STATE: The Necro Butcher, who Rourke destroys in “The Wrestler.”

WINNER: Missouri.

REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: Michigan State, Long Beach State, Marquette and Missouri.

ELITE EIGHT: Missouri over Michigan State.


SYRACUSE: Take your pick of any who have had a drug problem, or about 95 percent of wrestlers.

NORTH CAROLINA-ASHEVILLE: For this matchup, the Gobbledy Gooker, one of the worst wrestling gimmicks of all time, seems fitting.

WINNER: Syracuse.

KANSAS STATE: Not that the Wildcats are a giant, but they play like Andre the Giant – brutally physical.

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: Larry Eustachy is the Jake “The Snake” Roberts of college coaching, theatrics included.

WINNER: Kansas State.

VANDERBILT: “Superstar” Billy Graham never lived up to the hype, much like the Commodores.

HARVARD: The Genius, who happens to be The Macho Man Randy Savage’s brother, has little chance in this matchup.

WINNER: Vanderbilt.

WISCONSIN: The Badgers are to basketball what Hulk Hogan is to the technical side of wrestling – painful to watch, yet effective.

MONTANA: Virgil, or any other wrestler who had no chance against Hulk Hogan.

WINNER: Wisconsin.

CINCINNATI: The late, great Macho Man, who made a solid comeback in the WCW, much like the Bearcats did after their brawl with Xavier.

TEXAS: Terry Funk never won the big one, at least in a legitimate promotion, but he was always there, as Texas has been under Rick Barnes.

WINNER: Cincinnati.

FLORIDA STATE: John Cena is one of the most overhyped, overrated wrestlers of all-time. The Seminoles strike me as wildly overvalued in this tournament.

ST. BONAVENTURE: The Miz. I have nothing against St. Bonaventure … just looking for a crap wrestler who is even worse than Cena.

WINNER: Florida State.

GONZAGA: Like Dusty Rhodes, the Zags will be facing hard times early.

WEST VIRGINIA: Ric Flair. Greatest wrestler of all time. But he’s still wrestling. At age 150. And it isn’t pretty, much like the Mountaineers over the last month.

WINNER: West Virginia

OHIO STATE: Triple H. Still a force to be reckoned with.

LOYOLA, MD.: Adrian Adonis. They have no chance.

WINNER: Ohio State.

REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Florida State and Ohio State.


NORTH CAROLINA: Roy Williams = Andy Griffith and his “aw shucks” shtick.

VERMONT: “Cop Rock,” which was on TV about as long as Vermont will be this week.

WINNER: North Carolina.

CREIGHTON: The McDermotts have a relationship like “The Beav” and his old man did.

ALABAMA: “Cops.” The Tide has had its share of disciplinary issues.

WINNER: Creighton.

TEMPLE: The next-to-last season of “The Sopranos.” Solid and entertaining.

SOUTH FLORIDA: The last season of “The Sopranos.” Overhyped.

WINNER: Temple.

MICHIGAN: “The Wonder Years.” Mostly because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Good show, good team.

OHIO: “Family Ties.” Simply not as good as Michigan, like “Family Ties” isn’t as good as “The Wonder Years.”

WINNER: Michigan.

SAN DIEGO STATE: “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Both are surprisingly good.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE: Same era, completely different impact. In other words, it sucked.

WINNER: San Diego State.

GEORGETOWN: “Transformers.” Very good cartoon, very good team.

BELMONT: “Smurfs.” Georgetown isn’t exactly Gargamel.

WINNER: Georgetown.

SAINT MARY’S: Butthead. The better of the teenage idiots.

PURDUE: Beavis. The worse of the teenage idiots.

WINNER: Saint Mary’s.

KANSAS: “Family Guy.” If you’ve read this blog, you know of my disdain for the show.

DETROIT: “Pokemon.” Few animated shows are worse than “Family Guy.” This is one of them.

WINNER: Kansas.

REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: North Carolina, Michigan, Georgetown and Kansas.

ELITE EIGHT: North Carolina over Kansas.

FINAL FOUR: Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio State and North Carolina.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Kentucky over North Carolina.


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