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Sunday, March 16, 2003
Updated: March 20, 3:07 PM ET
What's hot, what's not for Big Dance

By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

Time is running short to study your bracket. You are fielding calls in hushed tones and doing the "Alt-Tab" shuffle between instant-message screens and dummy spreadsheets (psst -- your boss is doing it, too). You are wrapping up hours upon hours of preparing 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) in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, 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 FOR NCAA TOURNEY
Category Hot Not Hot
Fan
Ashley Judd

Juan Dixon
Bandwagon Final Four pick
Kentucky

Duke (for once)
Sleeper Louisville (No. 4 in East) Creighton (No. 6 in West)
Cheerleaders
Texas
(We're not that mean)
Premature MOP favorite
Keith Bogans (Kentucky)

Steve Blake (Maryland)
Directional school
Southern Illinois

East Tennessee State
Forget our academics Penn Notre Dame
This year's Kent State
UW-Milwaukee

Kent State
Venerable coach Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) Eddie Sutton (Okla. St.)
Young coach Dereck Whittenburg (Wagner) Quin Snyder (Missouri)
Really-needs-a-win coach Rick Barnes (Texas) Rick Majerus (Utah)
"He's Due" coach
Ben Howland (Pitt)

Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma)
Perennial overachiever
Tulsa

Cincinnati
Nickname Jaspers (Manhattan) Tigers (Pick any)
Small conference Horizon Patriot
Mid-major conference WAC Mizzou Valley
Power conference
Big 12

ACC
Carry-the-team big man Mario Austin (Miss. St.) David Harrison (Colorado)
Go-to scorer Brett Blizzard (UNC-Wilmington) Hollis Price (Oklahoma)
First-round upset special UW-Milwaukee over Notre Dame Butler over Mississippi State
Lock to choke
Memphis

Pitt
Sartorial style (coach) Suit stays on (until first TV timeout) Mock turtlenecks
Sartorial style (player) Retro college jerseys Warm-up suits
Celebratory move Tugging on jersey's school name Pointing to own name on jersey's back
Bench superstition Timed feet stomp Holding hands
Kicks Air Jordan IIIs Air Force Is
"Sound-smarter" buzz phrase for water cooler "Record vs. RPI Top 50" "Um, I like Kentucky!"
3-point shooter
Luke Ridnour (Oregon)

Jason Gardner (Arizona)
First-round matchup Dayton-Tulsa St. Joe's-Auburn
Get over it already Syracuse in Albany regional West is overloaded
"OH-ver-RAY-ted!"
Florida as a No. 2

Maryland as a No. 6
Will kill your pool sheet Cincinnati Big Ten
Pity for burst bubble Texas Tech Tennessee
Least like to be underexposed
Luke Walton (Arizona)

Josh Howard (Wake Forest)
Human highlight reel Ricky Paulding (Missouri) Ryan Randle (Maryland)
Juicy potential second round matchup Maryland-Xavier Indiana-Pitt

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 oon picking this year's bracket big winners:

PAGE 2'S BRACKET PICKS
Category We Like We Don't Like
East fave
Syracuse

Wake Forest
East sleeper Louisville Butler
West fave Duke Arizona
West sleeper Wisconsin-Milwaukee W. Kentucky
Midwest fave Kentucky Pitt
Midwest sleeper Marquette Dayton
South fave Maryland Texas
South sleeper
LSU

Colorado
Has it easy Kentucky Duke
Got hosed
Kansas

Illinois
Final pick Kentucky over Syracuse Anyone over Kentucky

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning. Be sure to check out the special-edition live "Tourney Quickie" on Thursday and Friday afternoons.