Commentary

Final Four Likability Index

Who should you root for? Use our guide

Originally Published: March 30, 2010
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

Some of the readership may recall that last year at this time, I was losing to my 5-year-old nephew in the family NCAA tournament pool (for entertainment purposes only). It was a low moment for someone who gets paid to write about college basketball.

This year I have at least beaten that little bugger, thanks in part to him picking Wofford to make the Sweet 16. And I may actually win the family pool. But my bracket is still in bad shape.

Butler is my only Final Four team in that pool. And like a dope, I didn't have the conviction to pick the Bulldogs in every sheet I filled out -- even though I predicted a Butler Final Four run in November on this very site.

But I know I have a lot of company in the busted bracket category. According to ESPN PR, only 200 of the 4.8 million brackets filled out on our site have a complete Final Four. So it's time once again to ditch office-pool allegiances and make a quantified, objective choice on who to root for this weekend in Indianapolis. Presenting the second annual ESPN.com Likability Index:

[+] EnlargeButler Mascot
AP Photo/Darron CummingsIs that a face to love or what?

If your team's Final Four storyline is a homecoming for a lower profile school from a non-power conference with a bunch of non-hamburger All-Americans who normally never get here, add 10 points. (Butler)

If your team's Final Four storyline is its first appearance in 51 years and the coach's return after an 18-year absence, add five points. (West Virginia)

If your team's Final Four storyline includes overcoming the loss of your leading scorer in the second round of this tournament, add five points. (Michigan State)

If your team's Final Four storyline includes having the most McDonald's All-Americans, the most national titles and adding a fresh layer of smugness to the national leader in that department, deduct five points. (Duke)

Likability Index: Butler 10, West Virginia 5, Michigan State 5, Duke minus-5.

If your team's mascot is real and carries a bone, add 10 points. (Butler)

If your team's mascot is real and carries a firearm, deduct three points. (West Virginia)

If your team's mascot has a gigantic head and occasionally scares children, add two points. (Michigan State)

If your team's mascot is a dork with a pitchfork, deduct five points. (Duke)

Likability Index: Butler 20, West Virginia 2, Michigan State 7, Duke minus-10.

If your team is on national TV more often than Anderson Cooper, deduct five points for Viewer Fatigue Syndrome. (Duke)

If your team is on ESPN more often than Rece Davis, deduct three points for Big East overexposure. (West Virginia)

If your team is on national TV plenty but several of those appearances are squirreled away on the Big Ten Network, add two points for conference camouflage. (Michigan State)

If your team is on national TV less often than Mickie Krzyzewski, add five points for freshness. (Butler)

Likability Index: Butler 25, West Virginia minus-1, Michigan State 9, Duke minus-15.

[+] EnlargeCameron Crazies
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe Cameron Crazies give Duke one of the great arenas in the country.

If your school's all-time best player changed the game of basketball forever by ushering in a new era of popularity, add five points. (Michigan State)

If your school's all-time best player is The Logo, add five points. (West Virginia)

If your school's all-time best player stepped on the chest of an opponent in an NCAA tournament game and went on to only modest NBA success, deduct five points. (Duke)

If your school has not produced an NBA player since Buckshot O'Brien in 1953, deduct 10 points. (Butler)

(HOWEVER: If your school suited up the real-life Jimmy Chitwood and he finished his career as your all-time leading scorer, add 10 points.) (Butler)

Likability Index: Butler 25, West Virginia 4, Michigan State 14, Duke minus-20.

If your team's home arena is the site of both the real-life Milan miracle and the Hickory Hollywood version, add 10 points. (Butler)

If your team's home arena is one of the great shrines of the game and houses one of its best student sections, add seven points. (Duke)

If your team's home arena is one of the best modern venues in the game and houses another of the nation's best student sections, add three points. (Michigan State)

If your team's home arena is where fans throw coins and other debris on the court, deduct five points. (West Virginia)

Likability Index: Butler 35, West Virginia minus-1, Michigan State 17, Duke minus-13.

If your school gets a ton of football revenue as an Enormous State University in a power conference, deduct five points. (Michigan State, West Virginia)

If your school gets a ton of football revenue in a power conference despite being awful at football, deduct seven points. (Duke)

If your school is making ends meet without significant football revenue, add five points. (Butler)

Likability Index: Butler 40, West Virginia minus-6, Michigan State 12, Duke minus-20.

If your school got here in spite of a key injury, add five points. (Michigan State, West Virginia)

If your school got here in part because of a key opponent injury, deduct five points. (Butler, Duke)

Likability Index: Butler 35, West Virginia minus-1, Michigan State 17, Duke minus-25.

[+] EnlargeBob Huggins
Richard Mackson/US PresswireWVU coach Bob Huggins has a colorful and interesting past.

If your path to the Final Four went through a No. 1 seed, add five points. (Butler, West Virginia)

If your path to the Final Four went through no team seeded higher than fourth, deduct three points. (Michigan State)

If your path to the Final Four was littered with rose petals lovingly placed at your feet by the selection committee, deduct five points. (Duke)

Likability Index: Butler 40, West Virginia 4, Michigan State 14, Duke minus-30.

If your team's regional final hero is the son of a former star on a national championship team who died of a heart attack, and the son tweeted pregame, "This one is for you Dad! I love you!" Add 10 points for the Heartwarming Family Angle. (Duke)

If your team's regional final hero has a twin sister at the same school on the tennis team, add five points for the Unique Family Angle. (Butler)

If your team's regional final hero gets texts every day from his mom giving him pointers to improve his game, add three points for the Cute Family Angle. (Michigan State)

If your team's regional final hero was arrested last year for domestic battery at a bar called de Lazy Lizard, deduct five points for the Wrong Kind of Family Angle. (West Virginia)

Likability Index: Butler 45, West Virginia minus-1, Michigan State 17, Duke minus-20.

If your coach ever had a team put on probation, deduct five points. (West Virginia)

If your coach has been arrested and forced to resign, deduct five points. (West Virginia)

If your coach ever had a player who punched a police horse, deduct five points. (West Virginia)

If your coach dresses like a sports writer, add 10 points. (West Virginia)

Likability Index: Butler 45, West Virginia minus-6, Michigan State 17, Duke minus-20.

If your coach gets carded at R-rated movies, deduct five points. (Butler)

If your coach is unpretentious enough to dress up like a hippie, a biker or Sparty for Midnight Madness gimmicks, add five points. (Michigan State)

If your coach took on the high-risk, low-reward job of helping salvage American basketball pride in the Olympics, add 10 points. (Duke)

Likability Index: Butler 40, West Virginia minus-6, Michigan State 22, Duke minus-10.

[+] EnlargeTom Izzo
AP Photo/Al GoldisTom Izzo has done many things for laughs at Midnight Madness.

If your fans are absolutely ecstatic over the opportunity to be here, add five points. (Butler)

If your fans are absolutely ecstatic over the opportunity to drink heavily for another week, deduct two points. (Michigan State)

If your fans are absolutely ecstatic over the opportunity to burn things for another week, deduct five points. (West Virginia)

If your fans are absolutely ecstatic over the opportunity to act better than everyone else for another week, deduct five points. (Duke)

Likability Index: Butler 45, West Virginia minus-11, Michigan State 20, Duke minus-15.

If your team is an underdog Saturday night, add three points. (Michigan State, West Virginia)

If your team is an overdog Saturday night, deduct three points. (Butler, Duke)

Likability Index: Butler 42, West Virginia minus-8, Michigan State 23, Duke minus-18.

If your team's presence in this Final Four was in any way predicted by me, add five points. (Butler, Michigan State)

If your team's presence in this Final Four was not predicted by me and therefore makes me look even dumber than usual, deduct five points. (Duke, West Virginia)

Likability Index: Butler 47, West Virginia minus-13, Michigan State 28, Duke minus-23.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.