Picking a higher, faster, nobler bracket   

Updated: March 18, 2008, 8:40 PM ET

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It's the same story every few years: Previously little-known school makes deep run in NCAA tournament, and prospective student applications boom. Since intercollegiate athletics exist primarily as a marketing tool -- what, you think rich alums get pumped up to donate because some genius professor won a Nobel Prize? -- why not pick your brackets accordingly, and pit school marketing slogans (or, in a pinch, school mottoes) against each other?

The rules are simple: Forceful, inspirational slogans that could pull double-duty on a locker room whiteboard and/or as the title of a Rick Pitino book are good. Slogans that cross into mushy, maddeningly vague presidential campaign territory are bad. Slogans that are totally ridiculous -- Drake University may be many things, but "Gateway to the Globe" is stretching it -- are one-and-done.


On Friday, we promised to help you win your NCAA pool. Here are our nine foolproof methods.
The 10th -- straight chalk -- will be figured into the Page 2 group bracket as a control variable.
Stay tuned to Page 2 throughout the NCAA tournament to see how our brackets stack up.

Best unis
Our uniform expert breaks down attire aesthetics.
Uni bracket
Mascot fight
Which school has the most intimidating mascot?
Mascot bracket
Celeb alums
Which school has the most star power?
Celeb bracket
Inverse graduation rate
Which program graduates the fewest players?
Grad rate bracket
Coach appearance
Which coach is best-dressed for success?
Dapper coach bracket
Collegiate beers
If each school was a beer, which one would you drink?
Beer bracket
Cred, creed
Who has the right mix of street cred and religious clout?
Cred and creed bracket
Cheesy slogan
School slogans can say a lot. Who has the best one?
Slogan bracket
Non-hoops jocks
Which school produces the most successful non-basketball athletes?
Non-hoops jocks bracket

Easiest region to pick: West. UCLA's slogan -- "Here. Now. UCLA." -- is the strongest in the field. Only "Survive. Advance. UCLA." would be better.

Toughest region to pick: East. Winthrop ("Truth with liberty"), North Carolina ("Light and liberty") and Indiana ("Light and truth") present tricky variations on a theme. And that's without mentioning American ("God and country").

Easiest pick (single game): Georgetown def. UMBC. On one hand, G'town's "Both into one" motto could double as a Spice Girls single ("And one!" would make us more excited); on the other, UMBC's "An Honors University in Maryland" is as uninspired as they come. An honors university? In Maryland? Thanks for clearing that up.

Toughest pick (single game): Drake versus Western Kentucky. The previously mentioned Gateway to the Globe against an "American university with international reach." Toss-up. Also, Memphis versus UT-Arlington. Memphis' "Dreamers, thinkers, doers" against UT-Arlington's "Be a maverick" practically previews an Obama-McCain presidential matchup. In both cases, your guess is as good as ours.

Biggest upset (in entire bracket): Cornell def. Stanford. Put it this way: Stanford's painfully lame motto -- "The wind of freedom blows" -- gets the last word exactly right.

First-round flop: UNLV. The namesake school of a city built on cheesy branding -- a city with the greatest civic marketing tag line in recorded human history -- doesn't even have a slogan! Pfft. What happens in Vegas doesn't make it past the first round.

Sleeper school: Arkansas. "A nationally competitive student-centered research university serving Arkansas and the world." Read carefully, and notice who is getting served: the entire freaking planet. B2K would be proud.

Final Four shocker: Washington State. "World class. Face to face." As we've said before: If that's not a formula for defensive success, we don't know what is.

Buy stock in: UConn ("Oak, strength"); George Mason ("A habit of excellence"); Xavier ("The power of X"); Texas ("What starts here changes the world"); USC ("Let whoever earns the palm bear it" -- school motto, or what Yul Brenner said before bum-rushing Charlton Heston's people out of Egypt?)

Sell stock in: Arizona ("Arizona's first university" -- um, wouldn't you rather be the best?); Gonzaga ("Develop your total self" -- exactly the sort of self-actualization mumbo-jumbo that makes the Baby Boomers so annoyingly self-indulgent; Oral Roberts ("It's about you @ ORU" -- no mention of team, and besides, using an "at" sign = epic fail).

Obvious pick we still like anyway: Kansas. Pick against the school's menacing, near-apocalyptic, "All Along the Watchtower" lost lyrics motto -- "I will see this great vision in which the bush does not burn" -- at your peril.

First Round
1 North Carolina def. 16 Coppin State
9 Arkansas def. 8 Indiana
12 George Mason def 5 Notre Dame
4 Washington State def. 13 Winthrop
11 Saint Joseph's def. 6 Oklahoma
3 Louisville def. 14 Boise State
10 South Alabama def. 7 Butler
2 Tennessee def. 15 American

Second Round
9 Arkansas def. 1 North Carolina
4 Washington State def. 12 George Mason
3 Louisville def. 11 Saint Joseph's
2 Tennessee def. 10 South Alabama

Round of 16
4 Washington State def. 9 Arkansas
2 Tennessee def. 3 Louisville

Regional Final
4 Washington State def. 2 Tennessee

First Round
1 Kansas def. 16 Portland State
9 Kent State def. 8 UNLV
5 Clemson def. 12 Villanova
4 Vanderbilt def. 13 Siena
6 USC def. 11 Kansas State
3 Wisconsin def. 14 Cal State Fullerton
10 Davidson def. 7 Gonzaga
2 Georgetown def. 15 UMBC

Second Round
1 Kansas def. 9 Kent State
4 Vanderbilt def. 5 Clemson
6 USC def. 3 Wisconsin
2 Georgetown def. 10 Davidson

Round of 16
1 Kansas def. 4 Vanderbilt
6 USC def. 2 Georgetown

Regional Final
1 Kansas def. 6 USC

First Round
1 Memphis def. 16 Texas-Arlington
8 Mississippi State def. 9 Oregon
12 Temple def. 5 Michigan State
4 Pittsburgh def. 13Oral Roberts
8 Marquette def. 11 Kentucky
14 Cornell def. 3 Stanford
7 Miami (Fla.) def. 10 Saint Mary's
2 Texas def. 15 Austin Peay

Second Round
8 Mississippi State def. 1 Memphis
4 Pittsburgh def. 12 Temple
8 Marquette def. 14 Cornell
2 Texas def. 7 Miami (Fla.)

Round of 16
8 Mississippi State def. 4 Pittsburgh
2 Texas def. 8 Marquette

Regional Final
2 Texas def. 8 Mississippi State

First Round
1 UCLA def. 16 Mississippi Valley State
9 Texas A&M def. 8 BYU
5 Drake def. 12 Western Kentucky
4 Connecticut def. 13 San Diego
11 Baylor def. 8 Purdue
3 Xavier def. 14 Georgia
7 West Virginia def. 10 Arizona
2 Duke def. 15 Belmont

Second Round
1 UCLA def. 9 Texas A&M
4 Connecticut def. 5 Drake
3 Xavier def. 11 Baylor
2 Duke def. 7 West Virginia

Round of 16
1 UCLA def. 4 Connecticut
3 Xavier def. 2 Duke

Regional Final
1 UCLA def. 3 Xavier

1 Kansas def. 4 Washington State
1 UCLA def. 2 Texas

CHAMPIONSHIP: 1 UCLA def. 1 Kansas


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