Thursday, March 16, 2006

How to Pick a winner in the NCAA Tourney

All the brackets are in, the money is paid, and upset guy is already bragging about his bold Oral Roberts pick. Now rip up your bracket and learn the real method to picking a champion, based on the last 18 years. Toss RPI, tourney history, coaching and potential stars in the trash, there is only one factor to look at. Since 1988 the champion school has either been clean from scandal or dirty. Schools like Syracuse who are considered shady fall into the dirty category. In this span things always balance out. Filthy schools Michigan and UNLV win in the late 90’s, followed by squeaky clean Duke and UNC the next three years. Since ’93, neither clean or dirty has won more than two in a row.

First eliminate any seed lower than a four, it is hard enough for a lower seed to make the Final Four, but nearly impossible to win it all. Next divide the teams into two categories based on scandal and NCAA probation: pristine and unclean. Not every school will be one extreme, so some guesswork is needed, but less than you may think (unfortunately these could change at a later date). Among the top sixteen teams in the tourney they spilt evenly:


Duke-The ultimate Pristine Powerhouse
Iowa-Ignore Pierre Pierce and Jess Settles, the bracket needs clean teams
Texas-They’re dirty on the court
Kansas-Infractions under Larry Brown was a long time ago
Gonzaga-Might someday end up in Unclean
North Carolina-The reigning Pristine Champ
Villanova-Could have been dirty too.
Boston College-Being in the Pristine ACC allows grace

LSU-They’re an SEC team, it’s expected to cheat
Memphis-The only thing missing is Tarkanian
UCLA-The last two coaching eras were dirty including ’95 title
UConn-A history of shady point guards from Khalid El-Amin to Marcus Williams
Illinois-Pretty clean recently, but former coach Lou Henson left a lasting image
Tennessee-They have guards that can dish the rock.
Florida-Another SEC team that reeks of shady doings
Ohio State-Scandal spans back to early 90's.

Keeping in mind that Pristine North Carolina won last year, it’s time for an Unclean to soil the trophy. Since UConn won two years ago and they are more of a shady team (but making strides towards full-fledged dirty), it is time for a truly dirty team to win out. Ohio State’s last two coaches’ misdeeds have positioned the Buckeyes for probabtion and NCAA scrutiny for the next few years. Ohio State's One Shining Moment is now, because there may not be a next time.