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posted: Mar. 14, 2006  |  Feedback

We've all made the joke about how the least likely person always ends up winning your office pool -- a secretary, a temp with 36D's, a janitor with a 12-letter first name -- mainly because it's true. So why not just fill out this year's bracket trying to think like them?

With that in mind, I asked the Sports Gal and my mom (visiting last weekend) to fill out their brackets for ESPN.com while I jotted down notes as they went along. Here's what transpired:


Sweet 16: Duke over GW ... LSU over Cuse ... WVU over Iowa ... Texas over NC State.

Comments: "I like Syracuse, they're scrappers, but I think their luck will run out. I have to be honest, I don't know much about a lot of these schools."

Regional Final: Duke over Texas.

Explanation: "I had a friend named Duke in college and Texas has a high number. Duke's a doctor now -- he's a cardiologist in California."

Sweet 16: Memphis over Bucknell ... Pitt over Kansas ... Gonzaga over Indiana ... UCLA over Marquette.

Explanation: "Bucknell is kind of a preppie school; I like that. I think they can win one game. I have a tendency to go toward smaller schools and Jesuit schools, that's why I like Gonzaga and Marquette as well. As for UCLA, I remember when Lew Alcindor played there that was really exciting; I've always liked them. Did I ever tell you that I saw Bill Walton speak at Abbie Hoffman's funeral?"

Regional Final: Memphis over UCLA.

Explanation: "Just a gut feeling ... I go by the gut and by names I like, those are my two criteria. Like, I would never go for Oral Roberts. Ever. I like Gonzaga's name but I really like Memphis, I have a good feeling about them."

Sweet 16: UConn over Kentucky ... Illinois over Washington ... UNC over Michigan State ... Tennessee over Seton Hall.

Comments: "The first round was easy in this one, why would anyone take Utah State, Murray State, George Mason, Albany, Winthrop ... and I didn't even know Air Force had sports teams. Have they always had sports teams?"

Regional Final: UConn over UNC.

Explanation: "I just read an article about how much the coach for UConn makes -- he makes a ton of money, I couldn't believe it. So they better win."

Sweet 16: Villanova over Arizona ... BC over Nevada ... Florida over Oklahoma ... Georgetown over OSU.

Comments: "I don't understand the 'play-in game winner' (in the first round) -- I'm annoyed that I don't have a choice there. That doesn't seem fair."

Regional Final: Villanova over Georgetown.

Explanation: "I didn't take BC even though I went there -- I'm not like you, I don't have weird alliances to my teams. I like Villanova because they get a ton of press on Mike and the Mad Dog. I listen to them on my way home from work -- this way, I know what's going on in the sports world and can understand your columns. I like Georgetown because they're a Jesuit school but they rejected you so I can't pick them to make the Final Four. I still can't believe they rejected you."

Final Four: Duke over Memphis, Villanova over UConn.

Explanation: "I didn't realize I had all No. 1 seeds until you told me. I don't look at that when I'm picking. It's not my fault that all the teams I liked were No. 1 seeds."

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Duke over Villanova.

Explanation: "Just a gut feeling. Sorry, I know, it's boring. If this was a tournament for wine, my picks would be more interesting and I'd have more sleepers."


Sweet 16: Duke over GW ... Cuse over LSU ... So. Illinois over Iowa ... Texas over California.

Comments: "I like Duke because I liked Christian Laettner when he was there -- they always have hot guys on the team. I like Syracuse over LSU even though I feel bad for Louisiana because of everything that happened there. I like Southern Illinois over West Virginia in an upset [in Round 1] -- I've been to Virginia dozens of times and always avoided West Virginia, that place scares me for some reason. Then I have Southern Illinois winning the next round as well, you need to take chances. They're my sleeper. And I like Texas over California even though I'm a Dead fan."

Regional Final: Duke over Texas.

Explanation: "Duke always makes it until the end so it's dumb not to pick them -- that's how it always pans out. Those guys know what they're doing when they make the number seed thingies."

Sweet 16: Memphis over Bucknell ... Pitt over Kansas ... Gonzaga over SD State ... UCLA over Marquette.

Comments: "There's no way in hell I can pick Oral Roberts [laughing] ... is that really the name of their school? [Anyway], I had a friend that went to Bucknell so I think they can pull off one game. I like Pittsburgh; they're very nice there even though it's too cold and the people dress horribly -- it's like the Russia of the United States there. I didn't even know San Diego played basketball, so I have to pick them for one game; San Diego is beautiful and we should go there more. They'll lose to Gonzaga though. I like Morrison -- you made me watch them once -- he looks like Billy Crudup in 'Almost Famous.' And UCLA over Marquette doesn't seem like a fair matchup -- isn't UCLA much bigger? Wait, why would they call that school Oral Roberts? You never answered me. Is that someone's name?"

Regional Final: UCLA over Memphis.

Explanation: "I have to pick UCLA because that's our hometown team ... I know you hate when I say that, but this is where we live for now, we should root for the hometown team."

Sweet 16: UConn over Kentucky ... Washington over Illinois ... UNC over Michigan State ... Tennessee over Seton Hall.

Comments: "This is a real weird bracket, lots of strange names in here. I don't like school names that are named after a person so I can't pick George Mason or Murray State, although I did pick George Washington, but at least he's a real person. You have to take UConn and UNC because they always win a couple. I'm taking Tennessee because 'Tennessee Jed' was one of the best Dead songs. And Washington will win because they're playing home -- that's the state of Washington, right?"

Regional Final: UConn over UNC.

Explanation: "UConn always makes it. I never watch these games but they're always in the last few games. Why would anyone pick anyone other than the best teams? That's why you always lose these things -- you out-think yourself."

Sweet 16: Villanova over Arizona ... BC over Nevada ... Milwaukee over Florida ... OSU over Georgetown.

Comments: "This is an easy one: I have friends that went to Villanova and BC, so I had to pick them, and I know a bunch of people from Milwaukee -- nice people in that area, everyone in the midwest is very nice. But I think Ohio State will beat Georgetown because my friend Teresa is from Ohio. I know a lot of people from Ohio. Although Georgetown is a cool area, one of my favorites. Plus, they filmed the 'Exorcist' there. Remember when Heather and I took pictures there in front of the stairs where the priest fell down?"

Regional Final: Boston College over OSU.

Explanation: "I miss Boston."

Final Four: Memphis over Duke, UConn over Boston College.

Explanation: "I can't imagine BC making the Finals, and everyone else will pick Duke so I can't pick them."

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Memphis over UConn.

Explanation: "Memphis has the kid [Darius Washington] who missed the free throws last year and fell down crying, don't they? That made me cry, remember? I have to pick them to win, I really liked that kid. That was like the end of 'Hoop Dreams,' only sadder. They're going to win and then someone will make a movie about him."

March 2006