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William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Wall Street Journal had an amusing toy called "Blindfold Brackets" which assigned code names and colors to the teams in this year's Men's Tournament, then described the strengths and weaknesses of each team. The idea is to eliminate the bias that might otherwise color one's picks, although even a casual fan like me could pick out some of the teams based on the descriptions. I used that, and Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Probabilities and then filtered the results through my own prejudices to make my picks.

A few notes: I like this St. Johns team, but the Johnnies are my team anyway. I think they can get past Gonzaga, and I think they can beat BYU. St Johns has injury issues, but BYU is sitting their best player for having sex, and they probably would have done the same thing if the kid had had a beer instead. No matter what you think of the match up the rooting interest is clear.

I'm picking Marquette over Syracuse because Charley Pierce went to Marquette, and CLA is thinking about it. I'm picking Mizzou over Cincinnati because EGS and her husband attend Mizzou, and because I've seen them play and thought they looked strong. I have them losing to a Free State next round, because I like to pick Free States over Slave States, and because UConn made the then EGA a respectable offer when she was looking at grad schools. I have Pitt going deep, even though they did not make an offer to the then EGA, because Pitt is really good, and I can't make all my picks based on her graduate school admissions-- that would be crazy.


Josh went to Vanderbilt, one of those, waddayacallem, Harvards of the South. I hate Harvards of the South, but the Commodores played well against a tough schedule, and have a nickname that is the same as one of my favorite soul bands. I've always thought it would be fun if they'd call their team captain the Lionel Richie, but they probably never will. Andrea went to BU, and LCA may, but it is a hockey school, not a hoops school. Also, they are playing Kansas, which wouldn't know which end of a hockey stick is the handle, but went 32-2 on the hardwood. Purdue was great this season, but it is also the traditional rival of Indiana, where EGS and Josh met. Notre Dame was also very strong, and has a roster stacked with four-year players. I hate Notre Dame, but a Notre Dame-Purdue matchup in the Sweet 16 has an old school appeal, and in my WSJ Blind Bracket I had the Irish in the Final Four. I couldn't bring myself to commit to South Bend that far when I knew what I was doing, but it makes sense that they'll go deep. I reckon the Jayhawks will take out the Boilermakers in the following round.

I like North Carolina over Long Island University because LIU is actually C.W. Post. C'mon-- C. W. Post against the Tarheels? Please. Charley Pierce notes that Texas lost to Colorado, who lost to (the actual) Harvard (Ivy League runners up! Fight Fiercely Harvard!) . I figure that's reason enough to favor Tennessee over Texas in the Round of Eight.

My Final Four is a fairly conventional Kansas vs. Pitt and Ohio vs. Tennessee. I think Ohio and Kansas will square off, and I've picked Kansas to cut down the nets at the end because I hate Ohio, and because Kansas is the Free State rival of Mizzou.

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