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My NCAA Picks: Tigers, Pigs, Asses, and Nightingales

I always seem to get suckered into Christopher Guest movies. With a boatload of incredibly funny actors, in theory they should keep you laughing all the way through the movie - though, in practice, they generally end up being too angry towards whom they're satirizing and aren't funny enough. What ends up happening is like what happens in his latest movie, For Your Consideration - about three dozen of the funniest people on the planet trying to steal the airtime with characters that probably belong in their own movie.

How does this relate to today, the opening day of the NCAA tournament? One of the characters from is the movie, publicity agent Corey Taft (hilariously played by John Michael Higgins), has one of those characters that you end up quoting for weeks afterward -and has the line that sums up the NCAA tournament in one, neat line.

"Inside every [NCAA Tournament team] there's a tiger, a pig, and ass and a nightingale, and you never know which one is going to come out."

And it's absolutely true. Sure, if they play their best game four games in a row, Xavier or Crieghton could make the Final Four. But you know one day Creighton's going to come out and shoot like pigs, and the Musketeers are going to shoot like donkeys, while some other team out of nowhere (like Louisville or Memphis) will become tigers and take down everyone in their path. It's maddening. They could have won that game, you end up justifying to yourself as you tear up your pool.

For fun, I'm going to separate the NCAA tournament teams into these four categories as a different way to show who I picked in the first round. (Of course, a team I picked as an ass or pig will probably end up winning the whole thing, so be warned.)

1st Round Piglets
Jackson State, Niagara, Texas A&M-CC, Weber State, North Texas, Central Connecticut State, Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Penn, Miami (OH), New Mexico State

These guys, like piglets, are cute but shouldn't have the talent, juice, or matchup to make it out of the first round. Hopefully you didn't have them advancing out of your bracket - that would be a mistake.

1st Round Asses
Purdue, Georgia Tech, Villanova, Virginia Tech, Duke, Indiana, Michigan State, Arkansas, Washington State, Texas Tech, Xavier, Virginia, Stanford

These guys, in my mind, are ripe to be first-round victims to either nightingales that are contenders for the national championship, or adolescent tigers that will be able to write a chapter in NCAA Tournament lore for years to come. Note how many middling power-conference teams there are in here (Purdue, Duke, Texas Tech, Stanford) as well as an Atlantic 10 team that couldn't beat anyone in the last weeks of the year (Xavier). To me, those are prime donkey candidates.

1st Round Baby Tigers
Butler, Nevada, Winthrop, Wright State, Southern Illinois, George Washington, Davidson, Long Beach State

I like all these teams (which is why I'm calling them "tigers"), but to me they seem to be victims of a bad matchup or a numbers game (someone out to be brought up on charges for having Butler and Old Dominion play in the first round). It killed me, for example, not to take Davidson over Maryland, but the Terps just match up much too well against the Wildcats in my mind. Now, put them against Virginia, and I smell an upset.

Second Round Asses
Arizona, Kentucky, Pitt, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Memphis, Vanderbilt

Simply, these are the teams that should be much better than they are that snuck into the second round due to good matchups (Pitt, Wisconsin), they play overrated non-scholarship conferences (Penn), or their coach needs to win one game to avoid getting fired by impatient fans (Kentucky). Also, don't you just know Vanderbilt is going to have that awful game at some point during the tournament? I bet it's in the second round.

Memphis gets a special mention since I really hate their head coach John Calipari. That's enough reason alone to have his team as a "donkey".

Second Round Piglets
Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Marquette, USC, Boston College, BYU

These guys aren't bad teams, but they are just going against powerhouse teams. They may give a push (Gonzaga leaps to mind), but in the end the guys on top here are just too powerful.

Second Round Nightingales
Holy Cross, Albany, Old Dominion

Yes, I know this is a "homer alert", but I see these guys are going to be the darlings of the first round. They're not the biggest small-college winners, but they will be on the map and will probably get a good run in the second round as well before fading on the court with honor.

You can probably guess my bracket from here, but if you care, my full bracket is here.


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