Dr. Brackets' cure for your NCAA pool
One of the biggest problems in filling out a NCAA tournament bracket is that you're often competing against people who can't name a player from at least 75 percent of the teams in the field. Heck, I have buddies from UT who claim to be hoops junkies but can't get you past Damion James.
But now that you've filled out at least three brackets and blown $50 or so, let me tempt you with one more advice column. This week only, I'm going by "Dr. Brackets," in part because that's the nickname that I gave myself. It's apparently caught on, which has led to me receiving inquiries from "fans" and at least one head coach in the field. (I'm serious.)
Since you're desperately looking for one final office pool to join, allow Dr. Brackets to give you one last check-up. I've spent countless hours staring at Joe Lunardi's comb-over, and Fran Fraschilla is a personal friend, notwithstanding the fact that he hasn't returned my phone calls since Sunday -- apparently he has something against 2 a.m. ET calls on a Tuesday night.
OK, now it's time for me to reveal exactly where you've gone embarrassingly wrong in filling out your bracket. In the interest in time, we'll stick with Thursday's and Friday's games. You're on your own after that.
Kentucky-East Tennessee State: Give me Kentucky and the points. Oh wait, we're not allowed to discuss that. OK, give me John Wall over a helplessly overmatched East Tennessee squad. A No. 16 seed has never won in this tournament. East Tennessee State guard Tommy Hubbard can flat-out go, but I fear a four-guard offense will be devoured by a Kentucky team with some length. John Wall goes for 17 points and 19 assists. Patrick Patterson has a double-double. Kentucky wins by 30.
Texas-Wake Forest: This is the all-underachieving matchup. Rick Barnes admitted that this was his worst coaching job at UT. I have to agree. Give me the Baptists by 10.
Temple-Cornell: My old pal Jay Bilas (never seen him in my life) told us on 103.3 FM ESPN that Cornell will be in the Sweet 16. On TV, he said they would be in the Elite 8. Cornell is certainly a school for the elite, but they're receiving way too much hype. Everybody's wowed that kids with inflated SATs can also be coordinated. This is my overhype alert of the day warning. Do not pick Cornell. Cornell kids will be too focused on finals -- in three months. Temple by 10.
Wisconsin-Wofford: The Terriers' Noah Dahlman will surprise some folks. He's a 6-6 forward with some serious game. But Wofford will fall because it has never been to the Dance. There's some freak-out factor that goes on in the tourney.
Marquette-Washington: It's a shame the Pac-10 has to be represented in this tourney. Washington got hot in the tournament, which isn't saying much. Give me Marquette or give me death.
New Mexico-Montana: Could someone remind me what happened to Steve Alford at Iowa? The Lobos are so overrated. But Todd Bozeman's squad isn't ready for this type of athleticism. When the Lobos play at sea level, they run teams off the floor. I have no idea whether that's true, but it sounds like something that might be true.
Clemson-Missouri: The ACC was laughable this season. Mizzou's playing with my man Laurence "of Arabia" Bowers, but Mike Anderson will get it done. The Big 12 school will flex its muscles in this one. Missouri 94, Clemson 78.
West Virginia-Morgan State: Don't disrespect Baltimore-area basketball. But Huggy and his band of whiners will survive before meeting their demise against Mike Anderson and the Tigers. I love the way Anderson's teams play in the tourney. Seriously. Frenetic pace works so well opening weekend.
Duke-Ark. Pine Bluff: The play-in game is the goofiest thing about the tournament. I'd write you a check for $200 right now if I could guarantee a Coach K loss, but it's not going to happen. Give me the Blue Devils by 37 -- unless they get hot.
Cal-Louisville: This is the all-mediocre game. Louisville has one really good player and a coach who knows how to close down a restaurant. Give me Cal because someone has to win. This game disgusts me.
Texas A&M-Utah State: I realize that Mark Turgeon is one of the top whiners in the nation, but I love how his teams play in the tourney. Donald Sloan provides veteran leadership and Bryan Davis, now in his ninth season in College Station, gives this team its tough-minded identity.
Purdue-Siena: I'm supposed to say that Purdue's not that great without Robbie Hummel, so that's what I'll say. Give me Siena and its CPA coach.
Notre Dame-Old Dominion: What a storied rivalry. Wait, I have this matchup mixed up with Syracuse-Georgetown. Notre Dame wins because Old Dominion's the only team that bores me more than Notre Dame.
Baylor-Sam Houston: This is a home game for Baylor's backcourt duo of Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn. Sam Houston will need to hit 19 3-pointers to win. Unfortunately, I'm a little scared of something like that happening.
Richmond-St. Mary's (Calif.): Richmond's a school that knows how to pull the upset. They won't have to in this game. Give me the Spiders.
Villanova-Robert Morris: Are there any biographies on Robert Morris? I've never had an appreciation for the man. I'm assuming he's no longer with us. Nova has the best-dressed coach in the tourney and a fabulous guard in Scottie Reynolds. That Villanova-Baylor matchup in Houston is going to be nasty.
Kansas-Lehigh: Believe it or not, I'm done a lot of research on the Patriot League. And this is where the Philadelphia Eagles hold their training camp. But Bill Self will overcome all of these Lehigh intangibles -- and win by 36 points.
UNLV-Northern Iowa: I'd be interested in this game -- if Tark were still coaching. Northern Iowa's the better team. Then they can get smoked by the Jayhawks.
Michigan State-New Mexico State: Every analyst across the nation has taken an oath to worship Tom Izzo forever and always. Michigan State survives, but they'll lose to Maryland. Not even close.
Maryland-Houston: Cougars have the highest scorer in nation in Aubrey Coleman. I think he may hang 40 on an overrated ACC team, but the Terps find a way. Do it for Lefty is their rally cry.
Tennessee-San Diego State: Steve Fisher's been there before. Of course, he had more talent and he didn't get to play against TCU twice a year. Bruce Pearl has no control of this team. I smell an upset. I don't like either team, but go with the Aztecs.
Georgetown-Ohio: I saw Georgetown in person during the NIT last season. That team had more talent, but this squad is much better. Peter King's alma mater can't get it done against the young Thompson.
Oklahoma State-Georgia Tech: James Anderson will go off for 35 points. He's the second-best guard in the Big 12 behind Lace Dunn. Yes, I left the overrated Sherron Collins out of the top 2. I repeat. The ACC isn't worth a damn.
Ohio State-UC Santa Barbara: Evan Turner's one of the best players in this tournament for the Buckeyes. But don't sleep on Orlando Johnson, a 6-5 sophomore guard who averages 18.5 points and five rebounds. I stay up late during the regular season to watch the Gouchos.
Syracuse-Vermont: I'm supposed to be in love with Boeheim's 2-3 zone because Bob Knight keeps telling me so. Marqus Blakely has been great for the Catamounts. And yes it's "-qus."
Gonzaga-Florida State: Don't ever sleep on a Mark Few team. Matt Boldin has now been there for 11 years. Little surprised this isn't against NCAA tournament rules. Boldin features the worst haircut in the tourney.
Butler-UTEP: I love this UTEP team. If you want to fall in love with a No. 12 seed, here's a place to start. Derrick Caracter will capture America's imagination. You heard it here first.
Vanderbilt-Murray State: Vandy's Jermaine Beal is the name to remember. He'll go off on the Racers. Worst 30-win team in history of the tournament.
Xavier-Minnesota: Xavier coach Chris Mack's first trip to the Big Dance. They have a guy named Jordan Crawford who famously dunked on LeBron James.
Pittsburgh-Oakland: I've been following the Golden Grizzlies for years. Keith Benson has a little game. One of the most underrated big men in the tourney. Jamie Dixon finds a way but loses to BYU.
BYU-Florida: The Cougars haven't won a first-round game since 1993. Say that to yourself again. Now that it's sunk in, take the Gators.
Kansas State-North Texas: I'm a huge fan of Johnny Jones' work, but one stare from Frank Martin will send Jones scrambling back to his seat.
Matt Mosley writes weekly on the Dallas-Fort Worth sports scene for ESPNDallas.com.