College hoops crazed fantasy

By Tim Rath

Web Editor

This is the month: March. Beginning of the end. The world, by some strange tilt of the Earth’s axis, starts to work itself from a state of snowed-in, controlled mania into a savage anarchy that won’t fully manifest itself until the summer months, when euphoria reigns supreme over responsibility. Until then, it’s March. Mob rule.

It’s almost like some sort of sick joke was planted in the cosmos specifically for fashion designers, ancient Roman emperors and kings of hardwood: when your respective industries are at their rowdiest, the collective citizenry will all be in the midst of this animalistic abnormality of in-between time. It is in this state of fixed chaos that the phrase “March Madness” has been coined.

Yours truly is not averse. Indeed, in-between the pressures of cramming for midterms, deadlines at The Oakland Post and returning back to civilized behavior after winter break, my bosses want me to use this space to preview the 2009 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, which is still a full two weeks from tip-off.

The stress has left me afflicted with the incurable malady that is March Madness. As such, here is my version of “Bracketology,” perfectly infected with the stains on my mind, relying on little more than hearsay, conjecture and the influence of various pink pills of varying power, used to preview what may or may not happen in each individual region. Gamblers beware.

West Bracket (Arizona)

I have the North Carolina Tar Heels sliding easily into the first seed of this bracket, in a pick that should impress very few hoops analysts. However, in a game that should shake the very foundation upon which renowned color commentator Dick Vitale lays his head at night, I predict that UNC falls to the previously-unknown, not-yet-16 seed Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks.

However, I don’t expect the Skyhawks reign to last long. I expect to see the Purdue Boilermakers topple them in the Elite Eight round to win the West Bracket behind an onslaught of 3-pointers from sophomore forward Robbie Hummel, similar to the way that I expect the world to end in December 2012 behind an onslaught of fire and ice.

South Bracket (Memphis)

It seems as in this year of college basketball, no team plans on “stopping” Oklahoma’s 6-foot-10 sophomore forward Blake Griffin per se, they only hope to “contain” him.

However, I believe that the Central Intelligence Agency has been working on a specific brand of barbituate designed to take out “Blake the Great.”

I believe that this elaborate plan will be set forth before the first round matchup, which should see the  No. 1 Sooners take on President Obama’s alma mater, the No. 16 Columbia Lions. With Griffin more concerned with hallucinatory pink elephants and wildebeests than the real live Lions eating his defense alive, the Lions should romp to an easy victory.

However, that sweet taste will be short-lived when Columbia falls to the No. 3 Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Sweet Sixteen round behind the play of freshman forward Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu has been outperforming himself lately, making a good impression on NBA scouts in addition to speaking to me through the television. Aminu has been telling me that I am too beautiful to stay in Michigan much longer, that I should drop out of my classes at OU and move to Milan with him to pursue a career in the modeling business.

I would take him up on the offer, but I expect his team to fall to Louisville in the Elite Eight matchup for a trip to the Final Four. I cannot be associated with failure.

Midwest Bracket  (Indianapolis)

All that I’ve been hearing since I stripped myself nude, coated myself in red and blue paint and held up a sign on the corner of Walton and Squirrel with “KANSAS IS GOING TO WIN THE MIDWEST BRACKET!” written on it is, “Tim Rath, you’re crazy!”

I beg to differ. Who wants a piece of the defending champions right now? Certainly not the Pittsburgh Panthers, who I predict will be awarded the No. 1 seed only to fall to the upstart Xavier Musketeers in the second round (Aminu has agreed that that is a good call). Nor the Villanova Wildcats, who I predict are hiding the body of Jimmy Hoffa underneath the parquet floor of their practice facility.

“What about the Davidson Wildcats?” you may be saying right now. “They were the darlings of last year’s tournament and they have Stephen Curry back for another shot at the championship.” Give me a break. They have no interior defense.

East Bracket (Boston)

Welcome to the “bracket of death.” When I woke up this morning and saw Tupac Shakur having a conversation about Middle East peace relations with The Notorious B.I.G. at my bedside, I asked the first question that was on my mind: “Who am I to predict will win the East Bracket?” Between such high-profile programs as Tennessee, Duke, Connecticut, UCLA and Michigan State possibly competing for the same Final Four slot, I had no idea who to choose.

The two rappers had no idea, but the breakfast burrito that walked in my room shortly thereafter gave me a piece of advice that I will carry with me through the rest of my days and pass along to Aminu: “Have some school spirit, man!”

With that in mind, I predict and therefore fully expect the OU Golden Grizzlies to place into the East Bracket after winning the Summit League Tournament this weekend. They will march in Boston and pick off college basketball powerhouses one by one, until they are left in the Final Four with the likes of Bracket champions Purdue, Kansas and Louisville.

Rather than choose a National Champion, my plan is to voluntarily check myself into the psychiatric ward of the nearest hospital to watch the Final Four games in peace. Go Grizzlies.