Commentary

Final Four Likability Index

Our surefire method for finding the most objectively enjoyable Final Four team

Originally Published: March 31, 2009
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

I'm not bitter. Not at all. Just because I'm losing the family NCAA tournament pool (for entertainment purposes only) to my 5-year-old nephew, I'm fine with that.

Just be prepared for a lump of coal on Christmas, kid. Now wipe your nose and do not speak unless spoken to.

[+] EnlargeMichigan State
Chris Chambers/Getty ImagesHometown heroes like the Spartans are big point-getters on the Likability Index.
Many of you probably are in a similar spot -- bracket busted, or at least bruised, and trying to recalibrate rooting priorities for the Final Four. I'm here to help.

Let's forget trying to determine which team is best. Instead, let's figure out which team is most objectively enjoyable for those without a dog (or wildcat) in the fight. Let's measure where Michigan State, Villanova, North Carolina and Connecticut rank on the Likability Index:

If your team's Final Four story line is a home-state school rallying a depressed populace enduring a catastrophic economic downtown on the 30th anniversary of its first title, add 10 points.

If your team's Final Four story line is its first appearance in 24 years and the chance to rekindle memories of a miracle championship performance against a seemingly unbeatable opponent, add three points.

If your team's Final Four story line is more, more, more hardware for a school that already has plenty, deduct five points.

If your team's Final Four story line is overcoming the "distractions" of major NCAA violation allegations that dropped like a bomb last week, deduct 10 points.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 10, Villanova 3, North Carolina minus 5, UConn minus 10.

If your coach's most famous utterance of the season was "Not a dime back," deduct five points.

If your coach dropped an F-bomb on live radio this season, deduct three points.

If your coach dresses so well that he makes everyone else feel uncomfortably sloppy, deduct two points.

If your coach once lobbied to become the school's football coach -- somewhat seriously, according to his athletic director -- add four points.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 14, Villanova 1, North Carolina minus-8, UConn minus-15.

If your most famous player has been on television during the past four years more often than Anderson Cooper, deduct three points for Viewer Fatigue Syndrome.

[+] EnlargeHasheem Thabeet
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWe all know what happened when David and Goliath squared off.
If your most famous player is taller than the Empire State Building, deduct two points for Goliath Precedent.

If your most famous player wasn't very famous until he sprinted nearly the length of the court to win the best game of the tournament so far, add three points for the Star Is Born Dynamic.

If you have no famous players, deduct three points for the Faceless Factor.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 11, Villanova 4, North Carolina minus-11, UConn minus-17.

If the best player in your school's history has an NBA championship ring and a lead acting role to his credit, add three points for versatility.

If the best player in your school's history wore the uniform before widespread integration, deduct two points.

If the best player in your school's history helped change the course of college basketball forever, add five points.

If the best player in your school's history is the best player in history, add seven points.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 16, Villanova 2, North Carolina minus-4, UConn minus-14.

If your best players, plural, all came back to school to try to win it all, add six points.

If your best player, singular, came back to school to try to win it all, add three points.

If your best player understood he wasn't draft material and came back, add one point.

If none of your players had any business turning pro last year and thus had no decision to make, deduct one point.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 15, Villanova 3, North Carolina 2, UConn minus-11.

If you walk around the coaches' hotel in Windsor, Ontario, and the media hotel in Detroit this week and it's impossible to find anyone who dislikes your head coach, add five points.

If you walk around the coaches' hotel in Windsor and the media hotel in Detroit and you can find more than a few people who dislike your head coach, deduct two points.

If you walk around the coaches' hotel in Windsor and the media hotel in Detroit and people are lined up to take shots at your coach, deduct five points.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 20, Villanova 8, North Carolina 0, UConn minus-16.

If your coach wore his regional championship hat sideways, deduct four points.

Roy Williams
AP Photo/John BazemoreThe improper placement of headgear will result in a deduction of points.
If your coach wore his regional championship hat the way a gray-haired guy should, add two points.

If your coach didn't wear his regional championship hat at all, deduct five points for vanity.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 15, Villanova 8, North Carolina minus-4, UConn minus-14.

If your mascot is a Husky, deduct a point for triteness.

If your mascot is a Wildcat, deduct two points for egregious triteness.

If your mascot is a Spartan and has an outlandishly large head, add two points.

If your mascot is a ram and your nickname is Tar Heels, deduct three points for confusion.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 17, Villanova 6, North Carolina minus-7, UConn minus-15.

If your school is an Enormous State University, deduct five points for gigantism.

If your school is a smaller Catholic university, add five points for doing it without significant football revenue.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 12, Villanova 11, North Carolina minus-12, UConn minus-20.

If your team will be an underdog Saturday night, add three points.

If your team will be an overdog Saturday night, deduct three points.

LIKABILITY INDEX: Michigan State 15, Villanova 14, North Carolina minus-15, UConn minus-23.

If your presence in this Final Four in any way messed up my bracket, deduct five points.

If your presence in this Final Four was something I predicted, add five points.

FINAL TALLY: Michigan State 10, Villanova 9, North Carolina minus-10, UConn minus-28.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.