No rhyme or reason to pool picks

March 18, 2003|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUN COLUMNIST

Let's be up-front about this: We couldn't get a monkey to fill out our brackets.

Having a monkey pick everything from stocks to NCAA basketball pools is a tried-and-true newspaper gimmick for demonstrating the randomness of various selection processes.

Except here's the thing: You really have to work to find a monkey. You need a connection at the zoo or someone who uses a monkey in an act (organ grinder, street performer on a unicycle, etc.). And then, there are probably a ton of animal-rights laws you have to worry about, not to mention PETA pickets, angry letters to the editor from pet-huggers and so on.

So to fill out our NCAA bracket sheet, we looked around the newsroom and found another order of primates we could make sport of: interns.

That's right, dear readers. Forget the so-called college hoops experts at your office, forget the RPI ratings, forget Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps and the rest of the blabbering heads on ESPN.

You want to win your office pool this year, go with our "Who Needs a Monkey?" bracket sheet compiled by Sun interns Meagan Dilks, a junior at Towson University, and Michelle Jabes, a senior at UMBC.

The selection method was simple: Dilks and Jabes took the names of all 65 teams, matched the opponents according to the brackets, and threw 'em in a hat.

And whatever team they pulled out, that was the winner.

Oh, it was an exhausting process, one that took several minutes to complete and cost us a buck for the Gatorade that they split. (Interns, God love 'em, they work so cheap.) Our complete bracket sheet, suitable for framing or entry into your office pool, appears on Page 5E.

Some highlights of the "Who Needs a Monkey?" bracket sheet:

Making it to the Final Four will be: Xavier, N.C. State, Notre Dame and that legendary basketball power, IUPUI (pronounced, we guess, ooey-pooey), which actually stands for Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, a No. 16 seed which plays in the mighty Mid-Continent Conference and boasts former Vice President Dan Quayle among its most famous alumni.

From there, our bracket sheet says Notre Dame and N.C. State survive to play in the championship game.

And, ladies and gentlemen, your new national champion in men's college basketball will be - you can etch this in stone, bay-bee! - the Fighting Irish. (Hmmm, we do our brackets on St. Patrick's Day, Notre Dame's picked to go all the way ... is there some cosmic Irish force at work here?)

Now maybe you noticed we used the term new national champion.

Which, of course, means bad news for the defending national champ, our own University of Maryland Terrapins. Sadly, our "Who Needs a Monkey?" sheet has the Terps getting waxed by Xavier in the second round.

Oh, we see the Turtles, the No. 6 seed in the South, getting past their opening opponent, No. 11 seed UNC-Wilmington. (Unfortunately, the Seahawks' most famous grad is actor Skeet Ulrich.)

But the interns say the Terps will then lose to the No. 3 seed Musketeers, at which point, coach Gary Williams' head is likely to explode from all the pressure building inside it all these months.

In any event, we'll let you know how the "Who Needs a Monkey?" bracket sheet is doing after each round of the tournament. And then we'll print a final tally of our score when March Madness is over.

Ooey-pooey in the Final Four.

Did you think you'd live to see the day?

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