By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

By now you've been studying the brackets for hours. Perhaps more importantly, you've been fielding calls in hushed tones and "Alt-Tabbing" between instant-message screens and dummy spreadsheets (psst -- your boss is doing it, too), all about your NCAA Tournament picks.

Why would you approach this process with anything less than the most current conventional wisdom? Check out the list below for who and what is hot (and what's not), from cheerleaders to Cinderellas, from players to watch to coaches to avoid.

Your ability to be out front on this will cement your celebrity status within the office, at the bar and on dates for the rest of the year.

WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT: NCAA TOURNAMENT
Category Hot Not Hot
Fan
Ashley Judd

Carmelo Anthony
Bandwagon Final Four pick Kentucky St. Joe's
Sleeper Wisconsin (6-East) Illinois (5-South)
Directional school Western Michigan Southern Illinois
Cheerleaders UL-Lafayette (We're not that mean)
Premature MOP favorite
Gerald Fitch (Kentucky)

Emeka Okafor (UConn)
Would-be Cinderella East Tennessee State Vermont
Forget our academics Wake Forest Princeton
Young coach Bobby Gonzalez (Manhattan) Quin Snyder (Missouri)
Really-needs-a-win coach
Phil Martelli (St. Joe's)

Rick Barnes (Texas)
"He's Due" coach Eddie Sutton (Okla St) Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
Hoops hot-bed Washington (state) Missouri
Perennial overachiever Xavier South Carolina
Nickname Jaspers (Manhattan) Anything conventional, like Tigers
Power conference ACC (6 in Sweet 16?) Pac-10 (only 3 bids)
Mid-major conference Atlantic 10 MAC
Carry-the-team big man Lawrence Roberts (Miss. St.) Sean May (UNC)
Go-to scorer John Gilchrist (Maryland) Jameer Nelson (St. Joe's)
First-round Upset Special Western Michigan over Vandy Standard 12 over 5
Lock to choke
Bobby Knight-coached team (Texas Tech)

Rick Pitino-coached team (Louisville)
Phrase at the office "Three pool sheets, please" "You're fired"
Sub-region Raleigh Kansas City
NBA stock
Devin Harris (Wisconsin)

Ben Gordon (UConn)
"State" Oklahoma Alabama
Roy Williams Watch Low expectations at UNC Underachiever at Kansas
Sartorial style (coach) Suit stays on (until first TV time-out) Sweaters or mock turtles
Kicks New-school Huaraches Old-school retros
Celebratory move Brushing dirt off shoulders Tugging on jersey's school name
Bench superstition Locked arms Holding hands
Jersey to be seen in Georgia Tech Whoever loses first on Thursday
Say hello, say goodbye Florida A&M Lehigh
"Sound-smarter" buzzphrase for water-cooler "Non-conference strength of schedule" "Um, I like Kentucky!"
Conventional wisdom You need at least some frontcourt size You need a go-to scorer
Defense Zone Man
Hairstyle High 'fro (Stanford's Josh Childress) Cornrows
Three-point shooter J.J. Redick (Duke) Ryan Gomes (Providence)
Historical perspective
G'towns '84 "finally" title team

NC State's '83 "miracle" team
Fashion statement High socks headbands
Trend Parity from 1-30 First-round upsets
"OH-ver-RAY-ted!" Maryland as No. 4 Wisconsin as No. 6
NIT favorite Georgia Florida State
Will kill your pool sheet
Florida

Wake Forest
NCAA coach-convention hot-button issue Recruiting policies College hoops course final exams
Pity for burst bubble Utah State Colorado
Strategy 3-point bombs away Drive and dish
Cliche "Survive and advance" "One game at a time"
Storyline At what point will St. Joe's stumble? How many No. 1's will lose THIS year?
"One Shining Moment" cover-band wish
Beyonce

Norah Jones
Flaw to watch Three-point FG shooting Free-throw shooting
Juicy potential "down the road" match-up Duke-UNC in regional final Duke-UNC in regional final


Everyone out there thinks they know the hot sleeper or favorite that can't miss. Well, Page 2 already has heard it all, and here's what we think of the conventional wisdom for picking this year's bracket big winners:

PAGE 2 BRACKET PICKS
Category We like We don't like
East fave
Anyone but St. Joe's

St. Joe's
East sleeper Wisconsin Memphis
West fave Stanford Syracuse repeat
West sleeper Western Michigan Southern Illinois
Midwest fave Kentucky Gonzaga
Midwest sleeper Georgia Tech Pacific
South fave Duke Texas
South sleeper Xavier/L'ville winner Air Force
Has it easy Kentucky Duke
Got hosed Big Ten Big 12
Champ for your boss
Kentucky over UConn

Stanford over St. Joe's
Champ for yourself Kentucky over Duke Anyone over Kentucky

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.




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