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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Break Out The Brackets
March 19, 2009

PREVIOUS SIDELINE NEXT SIDELINE

I don't know whether you've noticed this, but I'm a bit of a football fan. I watch every minute of the NFL season I can (or at least as much as I'm allowed to by Mrs Football). I'm convinced I watch, listen to, or online–monitor more weekly college games than some of those who vote in the polls. And come draft day, I will have my own 'big board' set up, caring deeply about everybody from the first overall pick to Mr Irrelevant.

And yet no part of college sports brings out the passion in this Brit more than the next two weeks. Until college football produces a system that provides a genuine route for any team — from any first division conference — to make it to the championship game, college football lacks a legitimate champion. It's nothing but a fudge. 150 years and there's not even much sign of a willingness to do anything but grab the money and flip the bird to the mid–majors.

That's why I love March Madness, and why I hope that this year the little teams cause more than a few upsets. The mid–majors (or even the minor–mids) of college basketball are going to have to rescue football. Here, Utah gets a crack at USC, voters don't get to choose between Oklahoma and Texas, and Radford has the same chance North Carolina does. Yeah, some committee choose the final 65, but from here on, this is a system where everybody decides their own destiny.

And best of all, having been given a chance, every small name team that fells a basketball beast puts more pressure on college football to justify its convoluted and detestable system of guessing a champion.

So here's to American, Binghamton, VCU, Radford. Go Akron! Go BYU! Go Utah! Forget last year — if ever there was a season when no.1s looked endangered, it's this one.




SPAN class= "headline">Breaking The Brackets

And then, of course, there's my brackets. Like I know anything about it. But then, that's the fun of it: the water cooler moment of comparing your nonsense to everybody else's. Anyway, here goes — we can look back and have a good laugh later...

(Hey, no peeking, finish your own before you look at mine!)

East: Villanova
I'm not feeling optimistic about upsets in the East. Taking things geographically, the early going should be a walk for Villanova, while it ends early for UCLA. The Wildcats slap down VCU and progress. Thereafter, they take on the winner of Duke/Texas. That's Duke, and that may be the toughest matchup 'Nova faces in the East. From the other half of the draw, I go with the obvious. Pitt gets by Tennessee; Xavier edges Florida State (because there is more to making the regionals than Toney Douglas). Pitt ultimately emerges to fight 'Nova, but I'll accept the Wildcats regular season victory over Pitt as evidence enough.

South: North Carolina
Much as I'd love to pick the McKnights of Akron, Gonzaga's looking good to breeze past them and Illinois before falling to North Carolina. The romantic in me takes Temple over Arizona State, but the Owls don't last against Syracuse. Thereafter, Syracuse may face the surprise of Michigan, who upend Oklahoma with hopes of a Final Four in Detroit. Won't happen, though. Syracuse plays the Tar Heels for the South, and — assuming Ty Lawson is fine — NC prevails. Of course, Lawson's fitness is no gimme. I wouldn't bat an eyelid if 4–seed Gonzaga came out of the South.

West: Memphis
Picking Memphis over UConn in the West wouldn't be a radical upset, but I can see some eye–openers along the way. For example, I'll buy Northern Iowa vs Mississippi State instead of Purdue vs Washington in round 2, and despite the Bulldogs being a long way on the road, I think they have momentum enough to play UConn close. Elsewhere, I'll entertain Marquette in a shocker over Missouri, and Maryland to surprise Cal, but both will fall to Memphis.

Midwest: Louisville
Maybe I'm getting more into the spirit of the tournament as I go along, but Louisville aside I can see some oddities in the Midwest. A Dayton vs North Dakota bracket assumes West Virginia and Kansas slipping early, but then the 'madness' has to come from somewhere, and we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto, we're in Minneapolis, which could be the epicentre for weird. Michigan State to lose to BC? Dayton vs Boston College for the right to play Louisville? Yeah, why not? Drop the other shoe, already. BC to stun Louisville? Okay, I'm not taking it that far.

Final Four...
So, I've got two 1–seeds (North Carolina and Louisville), a 2–seed (Memphis) and a 3–seed (Villanova). Regulars to this site may already be suspecting a Pennsylvania bias to Villanova's inclusion, and I'm pretty suspicious of it as well. If North Carolina make it past Gonzaga and Syracuse, Ty Lawson is healthy, and they finish Villanova's run. I don't have a good reason for taking Memphis over Louisville, other than the Tigers embarrassing me all season for making them my preseason no.17, and being keen to rub my nose in it some more. Plus, if I'm talking mid–majors, that's a Conference USA team to cheer. But I picked North Carolina as my preseason no.1, and when it comes to the championship, I'll stick with Hansbrough and company to the end. North Carolina it is.

So who did President Obama take? VCU over UCLA ... Utah to hold against Arizona ... Temple over Arizona State ... (hey, this guy knows what he's talking about) ... Memphis in the West ... and North Carolina to take the title.

Who am I, to argue with the President?

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