As most anyone who knows me can tell you, my love of college sports isn’t exclusive to college golf. So it was with great anticipation that I filled out my NCAA men’s basketball bracket last week, hoping that my hoops knowledge would help me win bragging rights among my former University of Michigan classmates who try to outsmart each other March.
Four days of basketball later, this much is clear: there will be no bragging this year. On the contrary, there will probably need to be a little groveling so as not to be the butt of jokes for the next six months, even if I do have all my Final Four picks still alive.
My busted brackets got me thinking, however, that there must be a better system to pick teams for the basketball tourney. What if, say, instead of trying to predict winners of the games based on how good I thought their hoops teams are, I tried to predict winners based on how good their men’s golf teams are? Sounds a little outlandish, I agree, but is it any more preposterous than somebody picking games based on their favorite colors? Or those who simply flip a coin for each game? (FYI: somebody did that in the pool I entered and is ahead of me by one point).
To test my theory, I’ve decided to go through this year’s brackets from the Sweet 16 on, picking each of the remaining games based strictly on how the schools’ golf teams have done head-to-head in tournaments they’ve played against each other to see if this might be my new method to March Madness. If the schools haven’t faced each other in a common tournament, I’ll use their overall win-loss records on the season, the better winning percentage advancing. If the schools have played against each other, but they have a tied record, I'll use stroke differential to break the tie.
So here goes ...
The Trojans won the their opening tournament of the season (Inverness Intercollegiate) and have seven top-fives in seven starts with an overall record of 89-13-1 (.869).
__ Winner: USC__
The Hoyas won their last tournament of the fall (Hoya Invitational) and have three top-fives in five starts with an overall record of 37-32-1 (.536).
USC vs. Vanderbilt
__ Winner: USC__
The Tigers have not won this season, but have three top-fives in eight starts with an overall record of 51-58-2 (.468).
__ Winner: Texas A&M__
Tennessee vs. Texas A&M__
Winner: Texas A&M
The Bulldogs have two top-five finishes in six starts with an overall record of 12-43 (.218).
Florida vs. UNLV__
Inverness Intercollegiate: Florida third; UNLV sixth
Ping/Golfweek Preview: Florida win; UNLV fourth
Callaway Match Play Championship: Florida fourth; UNLV ninth
Southern Highlands Collegiate: UNLV fourth, Florida 10th
For the curious, the Gators in head-to-head stroke play match ups are seven shots up on the Rebels.
The Salukis have three top-fives in nine starts with an overall record of 53-54-1 (.495).
__Pittsburgh vs. UCLA __
The Bruins have three wins and six top-fives in eight varsity starts, with an overall record of 74-13-4 (.835).
Kansas vs. UCLA__
USC vs. Texas A&M__
__ Winner: USC__
Florida vs. UCLA
USC vs. UCLA__
The battle of Tinseltown is a good one, as the Trojans and Bruins have played in four common events:
The Prestige: UCLA second (13 under); USC T-5 (13 over)—UCLA up 26 shots
Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge: UCLA win (33 over); USC second (38 over)—UCLA up 31 shots
CordeValle Collegiate: USC second (28 under); UCLA T-7 (4 under)—UCLA up 7 shots
USC Collegiate: USC second (1 over); UCLA fourth (18 over)—USC up 10 shots
Thanks, of course, to the school's golf team.