With Elite Eights, Final Fours and bracket mania coming to men's college golf later this spring, it seems appropriate to bring back something I explored the past two years when I was struggling with my picks for the men's NCAA basketball tournament. With the men's hoops down to 16 teams, could we predict how the rest of tournament would play out based on how good their men's golf teams are?
I've always prefaced this by saying the premise is a little outlandish, 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? Two years ago, this system had USC winning the men's hoops championship, not Florida, although it did successful have the Gators and UCLA get to the Final Four. Last year, I picked UCLA rather than Kansas ... and admittedly had none of the Final Four teams right. Nevertheless, I march on.
Just to remember the ground rules: I go through this year's brackets from the Sweet 16 on, picking each of the remaining games based strictly on how 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. In the event of ties, or the fact the teams haven't faced each other, I'll use their overall win-loss records on the season (versus all opponents), the better percentage advancing.
__With the two teams not having played in the same tournament this season, we go off their overall records:
The Cardinals have won the Cardinal Intercollegiate in September and have seven top-five finishes in nine starts with an overall record of 106-35-1 (.750).
The Wildcats have not won this season but have four top-five finishes in eight starts, posting an overall record of 82-45 (.646).
The Spartans have one win (Spartan Classic) and seven top-five finishes in eight starts with an overall record of 70-19-3 (.777).
The Jayhawks have not won this season, but have three top-five finishes in seven starts with an overall record of 49-43 (.533).
Winner: Michigan State
__The Cardinals and Spartans have been in the same field once this season, at the UNC Greensboro Bridgestone Collegiate in October. Louisville finished fourth while Michigan State was second, resulting in ...
Winner: Michigan State
__The Huskies have not won this season and have only two top-10 finishes in nine starts with an overall record of 22-115-2 (.165).
The Boilermakers have one win (Rutherford Invitational) but it is their lone top-five finish in eight starts; overall record of 42-56 (.429).
__The Memphis Tigers have not won this season and have only one top-five finish in seven starts with an overall record of 40-62-3 (.395).
The Missouri Tigers have not won this season but have two top-five finishes in seven starts, posting an overall record of 54-49-1 (.524).
__The Boilermakers and Tigers have played in three tournaments together, the Rutherford Intercollegiate, Wolf Run Intercollegiate and Windon Memorial. Purdue finished first, eighth and sixth, respectively, while Missouri was fifth, ninth and eighth, giving the former a 3-0 head-to-head mark.
Pittsburgh vs. __Xavier
The Panthers don't have a varsity men's golf team so the Musketeers win by default.
Duke vs. [Villanova
](http://www.villanova.com/sports/m-golf/nova-m-golf-body.html)__The Blue Devils have one win (UNC Greensboro Bridgestone Collegiate) and two top-five finishes in seven starts with an overall record of 40-56 (.417).
The Wildcats have not won this season and have only one top-five finish in six starts; overall record of 35-57-1 (.381).
__The Musketeers have five top-six finishes in eight starts, giving them an overall record of 62-54-1 (.534), which pushes them past the Blue Devils' .417 winning percentage.
The Tar Heels have not won this season and have only one top-five finish; overall record of 38-49 (.437).
The Bulldogs have not won this season and have no top-five finishes; overall record of 14-66 (.175).
Winner: North Carolina
__Oklahoma vs. Syracuse
__The Sooners have one win (MacDonald Cup) and three top-five finishes in eight starts; overall record of 54-55-3 (.496).
The Orange don't have a varsity men's golf team (Note to my wife: sorry, but I can't do anything about this).
__The two schools both competed last weekend at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational. With a seventh-place finish for the Tar Heels, compared to a 16th-place showing for the Sooners, the victory goes to ...
Winner: North Carolina
__Amazingly, these Big Ten rivals have yet to play in the same stroke-play tournament. Both competed in the Big Ten Match Play Championship in February, but they didn't face each other; MSU finished third while Purdue was sixth. Going by overall winning percentages also gives you the same outcome.
Winner:__ Michigan State
__The two schools haven't played in the same tournament this season either, so going by their above winning percentage the other school in the NCAA final will be ...
__In the battle for the national title the two schools have played together in one tournament this season--the Wolverine Invitational, appropriately enough since the hoops Final Four will be played only a half-hour from Ann Arbor in Detroit. The Spartans shot a four-under 848 to grab fourth place in the 16-team field while the Musketeers could do no better than a 19-over 871, tying them for 10th.
And there you have it … the winner of the 2009 NCAA men's basketball tournament will be the Michigan State Spartans.
At least, that is, if their golf team has anything to say about it.