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Villanova Will Fall in East Final

Column by David Berl and Jeremy Cohen
Sports Columnists

Well, sports fans, March Madness is upon us, so without further ado, sit back, relax, pull up a chair (thank you Vin Scully), and behold the view of the greatest tournament in sports from Mudville.

Bold Region No. 1: The East

The region's top three seeds will make the Sweet 16 without a problem, as every basketball fan this side of Minneapolis could tell you.

The fourth seed, Oklahoma State, will have a tougher time, as Big Country and his provinces will have to face a tough Alabama team led by Antonio "McRoll the" McDyess. However, the Cowboys will make it through, only to face Wake Forest, the nation's hottest team.

The Deamon Deacons will prevail, thanks to Tim Duncan "Doughnuts" and the great Randolph Childress, whose 107 points in the ACC tournaments led many to speculate what he would have done if his shooting hand had five functional fingers.

Wake's opponent in the Regional finals will be Kerry Kittles "and Bits" and the Villanova Wildcats. With Jason Lawson neutralizing fellow sophomore sensation Marcus "Cotton" Camby inside, 'Nova's superior perimeter play will overwhelm John "Fried" Calipari and the Minutemen.

In the regional final, Nova's hopes of reliving its 1985 glory will come to a screeching halt as the Randolph "Still Child-less?" Childress show will take the high road to Seattle.

Regional Darkhorse: In this sparse bracket, the darkest of the darkhorses is Clem Haskins' Minnesota Golden Gophers. Not even Pat Day could ride this miserable horse to victory, as the Big Ten's most disappointing team will be home shopping in the Megamall by the time guard Veshon Lenard can say "Billicans."

Not to belabor the point, or upset our friends from the land of 10,000 lakes, but the Gophers have about as much of a chance to see Seattle as Walter Mondale had of seeing the Oval Office.

Bold Region No. 2: The West

Top-seeded UCLA will make the regionals for the first time in several years, despite having to face the greatest strategist in the history of the sport, General Robert Montgomery Knight, in the second round. The Bruins should ice off a cupcake in the Sweet 16 unless prospective opposing coach Rich Majerus of the Running Utes has already eaten it.

On the other end of the bracket, Maryland and Connecticut will breeze into the regionals. Although Connecticut has impressed against the slower teams in the Big East, the Terrapins' perimeter quickness, in the form of Keith "Ticket" Booth and Exree "Replacement" Hipp, will give Connecticut a man-sized headache. Also, the Huskies' Travis Knight may need more than a little help from the Pips to curtail the Terrapin inside attack.

In the regional final, in the matchup of the top two candidates for Player of the Year, Maryland's Joe Smith will prevail over UCLA's Ed Obannon. After all, as Bruin coach Jim Harrick will know in a few weeks, you can't hope to stop Mr. Smith, you can only hope to contain him.

Regional Darkhorse: The talent in Bloomington may be thin, but, Bobby Knight has beaten better teams than UCLA with less talent - just ask Jimmy Boeheim. An upset is improbable, but if Allan Henderson heats up inside and sharp-shooter Todd Leary is on target, anything is possible.

Bold Region No. 3: The Southeast

Top seed Kentucky has an easy ride to the elite eight, unless the Wildcats go 0-65 from three point range in its first round game against perennial powerhouse Mt. St. "Helen's cousin" Mary's.

Kentucky's regional semifinal opponent will be the Arizona State Sun Devils, who may go all the way to Seattle, if "Coach" Bill Frieder once again abdicates before the first round.

The other side of the bracket features a second round matchup of two of the nation's top guards, Michigan State's Shawn Respert "plus" and Georgetown's diaper dandy, Allen Iverson. Jud Heathcote "bar" and the Spartans will prevail, though making the Sweet 16 will hardly be a pleasant experience.

The tournament's strongest number two seed, North Carolina, will be on Michigan State's horizon, and the Tar Heels, fresh off another disappointing loss to Wake Forest, will be ready for the tournament.

Respert is a special player, but his cohorts will be sadly overmatched down low, where Rasheed Wallace will promptly end the Spartans' impressive season.

In the regional final, North Carolina's superior talent, led by Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, will be too much for Kentucky's gunning attack. This time, an ACC team won't even need a full-court miracle pass and shot to defeat Kentucky in the quarterfinal round.

Regional darkhorse: The Languid Metro Atlantic conference, from which we in Mudville have been giving you updates, has finally arrived. The conference's first at-large bid ever went to regular season champion Manhattan, whose terrific perimeter game may prove too formidable for Calvin "Chicken" Curry and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Wimpy Region No. 4: The Midwest

Top-seeded Kansas's fate may lie in the hands of the NCAA discipline committee, which has thus far been the only power in the nation able to slow down Arizona point guard Daimon Stoudamire. Even if Stoudamire is reinstated, look for Kansas to defeat the controversy-laden Wildcats.

Don't feel badly for Stoudamire's father however; we here in Mudville are confident that he will find a cheap flight to Seattle regardless.

Kansas's opponent in the Elite Eight will be the defending champion Arkansas Razorbacks, who should need only fifteen minutes of hell to defeat Gene "Get me a Hydraulic Crane for a Facelift" Keady's Purdue Boilermakers. While Cuonzo Martin has been impressive, not even a historectomy can slow down Razorback power forward Corliss Williamson.

In the conference finals, Arkansas, led by Williamson, the outside shooting of Scotty Thurman, and the cheerleading of Chelsea Clinton will prove victorious. Speed will be the difference, as Kansas center Greg Oestertag will likely develop lead poisoning from his sneakers by this late in the tourney.

Jayhawk point guard Jaque Vaughn will be ineffective against Razorback defensive stopper Corey Beck, whose ability to shut down a ballhandler is unparalleled at this level.

Regional darkhorse: Although sixty percent of the Fab Five have departed Ann Arbor, the remaining two have been excellent performers in the Big Dance.

Both Jimmy King and Rey Jackson have experience in tight tournament games, and Steve Fisher's new crop of freshmen, led by Maurice Taylor and Mazio Baston, have matured nicely. An upset of Kansas is unlikely, but with the seniors and explosive guard Dugan Fife leading the way, a Wolverine miracle is not out of the question.

The Final Four

The first national semifinal will pit conference rivals Wake Forest and Maryland. The last Final Four played in Seattle featured a clash between Big Ten powers Michigan and Illinois, in which the streaking Glen Rice made the difference for the Wolverines.

History will repeat itself, as the team with the hottest outside shooter, la Steve Alford, Rice, or Anderson Hunt, will prevail. Thus, Wake Forest will continue its torrid stretch, led by the shooting of Childress.

The other semifinal matches the last two tournament champions, North Carolina and Arkansas. While no player in last year's tournament had the combination of strength and quickness to handle Williamson, Dean Smith has just the right person for the job - Jerry Stackhouse.

The best player to toil in the Dean Dome since the great and thankfully returning Michael Jordan, Stackhouse will rise to the occasion in the tournament and lead North Carolina to the finals.

Thus, on April 3, partying will commence on tobacco road as Wake and Carolina will meet for the fourth time this year. Although Wake Forest has gotten the best of the previous three matchups, look for Dean Smith's tournament savvy to lift the Tarheels over the Deamon Deacons. Although in their last two matchups Tim Duncan has held Rasheed Wallace to single digits, lighting is unlikely to strike thrice as UNC will win its second championship in three years.


In lieu of a trivia stumper this week, we ask our readers to send us their Elite Eight, Final Four, and Terrific Two contenders. The best prognosticator will then have documentation, instead of the usual, "No, I really picked St. Peter's, Mom" heresy. Good luck in your pools, and let the madness begin.