Unlocking the NCAA code

Originally Published: March 24, 2010
By DJ Gallo | Page 2

It has been a shocking NCAA tournament.

The conventional wisdom has proven to be foolish. In fact, many of the participants in the Sweet 16 are so unlikely, you have to wonder if something else is going on. Is the NCAA tournament rigged? Is there a plot by great and nefarious powers to deliver a certain outcome? Now that we are all the way to the Sweet 16, is it too late to stop it? Huh. There's that word again: sixteen. And again! Perhaps that number is the key to it all. Yes! It must be! I am going to put on my Dan Brown/Nic Cage/conspiracy theorist sleuthing hat and see if I can connect the dots and blow the whole thing out of the water!

See if you can follow along.

Sixteen is the atomic number of sulfur. Hell is said to smell of sulfur. The devil is in hell. Duke Blue DEVILS. Whoa. Sulfur is also associated with the smell of human waste -- or how Duke's main rival, North Carolina, "unexpectedly" played this year. Wow. Mind-blowing. But there's more. Much more.

Integers are numbers. Sixteen is a centered pentagonal number and the first integer that is the aliquot sum of a lesser number. It is also the base of the hexadecimal number system. I really have no idea what any of that means, but I bet a player on Cornell does. And perhaps they've even used this knowledge to advance in the tournament. We can't prove that they did not.

X-rays are used to diagnose many injuries. Kalin Lucas of Michigan State suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and is out for the remainder of the tournament. Achilles injuries usually take between 12 and 16 months to heal completely. Sixteen. But that's not all. The first person to write about the Achilles tendon was Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen. He did this in ... 1693. Terrifying!

The Air Force's F-16 is a plane that can deliver fatal shots from far away. Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh is a player who can deliver fatal shots from far away. Wow. And then there's this: "Ali Farokhmanesh" takes up 16 characters. And his last name starts with an "F." F-16. Is the military in on this, too? How high does this go? All the way to the top? Is Obama in on it? Did he try to throw us off the scent with his terrible bracket? Are you feeling faint yet? You should probably sit down so I can continue.

Every Tennessee athlete is banned from wearing No. 16. Tennessee retired Peyton Manning's number. He wore No. 16 at Tennessee. But did they really retire 16? Surely I am not the only one who noticed that Vols guard J.P. Prince attempted nine field goals and seven free throws in Tennessee's second round defeat of Ohio. Hmm ... 9+7. What does that equal? Oh, I don't know ... only SIXTEEN! Yet Tennessee claims it retired 16? LIES! It is now clear: there is no one we can trust.

Even the Vatican could be in on this. The current pope is Pope Benedict XVI -- the 16th! St. Mary's, named for the mother of Jesus, is a "surprising" participant in the Sweet 16. Ha! And St. Mary's star Omar Samhan took 16 shots in the Gaels' upset of Villanova. He also played 32 minutes and scored 32 points. Thirty-two is the first multiple of 16.

Nationally, the minimum age in which a person can donate blood with parental consent is 16. On Tuesday at practice, Duke star Kyle Singler got a cut near his right eye that required six stitches to stop the bleeding. 1 cut, 6 stitches. 1+6. 16.

Reading this you have no doubt started to see the truth. There are forces in play that threaten to destroy the NCAA tournament we all love. The president, the military and the Catholic Church are all in on it. Along with many others. And the entire plot resolves around the number 16. Not so sweet now, is it?

Unbelievable. But true.

Now the question is: Who can you even trust? Everyone is suspect. Even me. Even you. Take a look at the first letter in each paragraph in this column.

Notice anything?

Oh, that's right. It's SIXTEEN.

Written over 16 paragraphs. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

DJ Gallo is the founder of and sole writer for the sports satire site He also is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is on sale now.

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