Down the Drive has asked me to put my powers of clairvoyance to use on the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
"But ‘The Miss Cleo of College Football,'" a voice from on-high asks. That voice is one of the voices from the heavens that transmitted the future to me last fall. One of the voices that made you enough money to quit your job, move into the Schaumburg, Illinois Red Roof Inn, hire your cousin Chad to fetch you Little Caesar's Hot-N-Readys three times a day, and watch fishing shows off-and-on till the break of dawn from Thanksgiving night until that night last week when the Cook County Sheriffs showed up and made you leave Room 235 for refusing to pay your bill. Or maybe that was just me.
"What do you know about basketball, ‘The Miss Cleo of College Football'?" that voice from the heavens asks again."
"Yes, I gained fame and fortune as the ‘Miss Cleo of College Football,' picking every single game correctly all autumn," I responded. "But I also covered Bearcats' basketball this winter. To prepare UC fans for each game, I created an informative and hilarious video vault column, which you should go read right now. And then you should follow me on twitter: @ClaytonTrutor."
"You've convinced me!" That voice said before handing over an advanced copy of the April 5th, 2016 Houston Chronicle.
Without further delay, here are your Final Four: Kentucky, Michigan State, Miami, and, of course, Cincinnati.
Stick around to see how we get there and who gets to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.
Note that I only offer my astute analysis on the First Four and Round of 64 matchups. I just tell you the exact score of the games in subsequent rounds. For more in-depth information on later round matchups, call Miss Cleo at 1-900-MIS-CLEO.
The First Four:
South Region: (11) Vanderbilt vs. Wichita State: I had Shockers coach Gregg Marshall and Commodores coach Kevin Stallings over to the house last night for arm wrestling and hors d'oeuvres. Marshall beat Stallings both left-handed and right-handed. I beat Stallings left-handed and Marshall right-handed at the same time.
Wichita State 70, Vandy 57
East Region: (16) Florida Gulf Coast vs. Farleigh-Dickinson: Just ask my brother, hyphenated-names are always trouble. Farleigh and Dickinson will almost certainly split up after a brief relationship.
On the other hand, what's old is new. Mrs. Krushchev's 1959 Black Sea bathing suit is the top seller among 2016 Spring Breakers. It's the hottest thing to hit the Gulf Coast since James Brolin put on a flight suit for Pensacola: Wings of Gold.
FGCU 76, Farleigh-Dickinson 63
East Region: (11) Michigan vs. Tulsa: Tulsa is being considered for next year's version of MTV's The Real World. Ann Arbor is not.
Tulsa 67, Michigan 53
West Region: (16) Holy Cross vs. Southern: My Momma's the world's biggest fan of Southern's marching band, but, Lord, I was born a Grambling man. I would trade my right to vote for the right to shake Mr. Tommy Heinsohn's hand heartily after he did an afternoon of yard work on his country estate in Methuen, Massachusetts.
Holy Cross 80, Southern 64
Let's work our way through the East Region:
Round of 64
1. UNC vs. 16. Farleigh Dickinson: Ah, North Carolina, says the dad on the Brak Show. Dean Koontz's old stomping grounds have been a frequent home for Lord Stanley's cup, ever since Magic Johnson guided them to the 1983 NCAA title. It's a shame that they haven't made it back to the finals since then. They looked great against Florida A&M, Rutgers, and NJIT earlier this year. I think they will make it to the second round.
UNC 83, Farleigh-Dickinson 80
8. USC vs. 9. Providence: Southern Cal doesn't have an answer for Austin Croshere.
Providence 56, USC 50
5. Indiana vs. 12. Chattanooga: I don't want to live in a world where SMU is banned from the tournament, but Chattanooga is welcomed in with open arms. Chattanooga is probably up to some funny business with those Choo-Choos and being so close to Atlanta, which, as noted in an earlier video vault, is "funner than hell." Kenny Rogers and the kids from the New Edition should open up an NCAA investigation on Chattanooga. Now granted, many Cincinnati Reds earned their stripes as members of the Chattanooga Lookouts. But I'm still suspicious.
Also, Yogi Ferrell has the least-interesting interesting name of all-time.
Indiana 78, Chattanooga 60
4. Kentucky vs. 13. Stony Brook: "Kentucky rain keeps pouring down/ and up ahead's another town that I'll go/ walking through/ with rain in my shoes/ searching for you" is a direct quote from John Calipari describing the Wildcats' guard play this year.
Stony Brook plays for all of Mankind. And Cactus Jack. And Dude Love. And Mick Foley. That's one heck of a burden for a team coming out of America East.
Kentucky 91, Stony Brook 43 (All from the guy who scored 43 against the beloved University of Vermont last Saturday. By the way, UVM is going to win the CBI.)
6. Notre Dame vs. 11. Tulsa: I wish I had gone to Notre Dame, but I wasn't smart enough to get in.
As an aside, I saw that new Batman movie the other day. And let me tell you, George Clooney was the right choice for the caped crusader. Putting an established actor like Arnold Schwarzenegger across from him in the Superman role was a similarly astute choice by director Wes Craven. As was the director's decision to have Batman rap all his lines.
Notre Dame 85, Tulsa 74
3. West Virginia vs. 14. Stephen F. Austin: If I ever meet a genie and he grants me three wishes, my first one will be that WVU's Tarik Philip and Jaysean Paige sing a duet of "It's a Team Saying It Takes Two" from the Police Academy III soundtrack. I want it to be at my birthday party and I want everyone there to do a spontaneous champagne toast to the memory of Commandant Lassard.
West Virginia 78, SFA 61
7. Wisconsin vs. 10. Pittsburgh: I enjoyed the heck out of Wisconsin's tournament run last year and I was prepared to pick them for the Final Four until I saw this statistic, courtesy of my colleague Jim Hammett at Cardiac Hill (follow him on twitter: @JimHammett) Number of Sheetz convenience stores in Metropolitan Pittsburgh: 1,327. Number of Sheetz in Greater Madison: 0.
Pittsburgh 1327, Wisconsin 0.
2. Xavier vs. 15. Weber State: Did you know that Xavier is the only campus in America that both appeared in Police Academy III (the graduation scene at the beginning) and has a fully-operational Ann Taylor Loft on campus? This weekend only, Ann Taylor Loft-Xavier is offering 30% off all Carson Tassel Suede Pumps. These fanciful, sensationally strappy silhouetted pumps are regularly priced at $179. If you head over to our convenient location on Victory Parkway, you can get them for just $148! With Spring approaching, it is just about time for all you ladies out there to show off those freshly waxed feet of yours in this undeniably sophisticated and simultaneously comfortable pair of 3'' heels.
Xavier 67, Weber State 49
Round of 32
1. UNC vs. 9. Providence: UNC 70, Providence 69
5. Indiana vs. 4. Kentucky: Kentucky 71, Indiana 70
6. Notre Dame vs. 3. West Virginia: Notre Dame 72, WVU 71
2. Xavier vs. 10. Pittsburgh: Xavier 73, Pitt 72
1. UNC vs. 4. Kentucky: Kentucky 88, UNC 66
6. Notre Dame vs. 2. Xavier: Notre Dame 88, Xavier 72
4. Kentucky vs. 6. Notre Dame: Kentucky 80 Notre Dame 70
Round of 64
1. Virginia vs. 16. Hampton:
It's weird that Virginia is the state school for the Old Dominion state and not Old Dominion. Both "Old Dominion" and "The University of Virginia" would make adequate names for chewing tobacco brands. The kind that goes in your mouth as you drive at ninety miles an hour, cross country, well after-midnight.
I think the Cavs have a real shot this year, if Kyrie Irving can stay away from them bedbugs. If LeBron can get his Irish up enough to play 48 minutes each night, these fellas are headed for the Sweet Sixteen.
Virginia 73, Hampton 52
8. Texas Tech vs. 9. Butler: I always liked Tubby Smith. I never understood why Butler traded Brad Stevens to the Celtics for Vin Baker and a conditional second round pick.
Texas Tech 78, Butler 65
5. Purdue vs. 12. Arkansas Little Rock: Gene Keady and I are both Mayflower material. We are both straight from the Standish bloodline.
Purdue 100, Arkansas Little Rock 84
4. Iowa State vs. 13. Iona: When I was growing up, Iona had a lot more ads on WPIX during reruns of Growing Pains than Iowa State did. All the neighborhood kids would show up at my house during Growing Pains, expecting me to make them English Muffin Pizzas. Which I did. While I was making their pizzas, they would chant "Iona Buick. Iona Xbox 360. Iona Pot-Belly Stove. Iona 0.8 GPA and I can't play in the tournament" and I was never able to hear any of Growing Pains, except for the theme song. All nine of my neighbors stood in silent reverence once B.J. Thomas' honeysuckle voice struck up the opening notes to "As Long as We Got Each Other." They would sway back and forth until its final bar before dropping down into the lotus position for their favorite show.
Iona 3, Iowa State 3 (Iona wins 2-1 on Penalty Kicks)
6. Seton Hall vs. 11. Gonzaga: The Zig-Zags are petitioning the NCAA to move the Final Four from Houston to Denver. Gonzaga coach Mark Few has no comment on the ongoing suit other than to say that 5-5-7-5-4 4-5-0-8-5 on his phone is the melody to "Funkytown."
Gonzaga 81, Seton Hall 71
3. Utah vs. 14. Fresno State: Was John Steinbeck on the selection committee this year? Both Fresno and Bakersfield get in the tournament? Does this mean that, instead of cutting down the nets, Coyotito is going to ride a red pony onto the court after the national title game and surrender his pearl to the winning team? Let's hope tournament officials go with the Coyotito plan instead of Steinbeck's original concept for the ceremony: letting Lennie award the captain of the winning team what's in his pocket.
A conversation I recently had with a Utah basketball fan
Utah Fan (UF): I like the Utes.
Me: Sneakers are too expensive. You need to make a law that says "Clayton gets free Air Jordans"
UF: Good idea.
Me: ESPN should devote a channel just to the Bassmaster Classic.
UF: That's a good idea too.
Me: I got no time for Marcus Mariotta. He has no gumption. I like my quarterbacks to have a lot of gumption.
UF: Oh, I agree.
Me: The best KISS album is Music from the Elder. Man, I love concept albums and I would do anything to win free tickets to the Boyz II Men concert at the Horseshoe later this month.
UF: so would I. So would everyone. And that's that.
Me: Subway should do that $2.99 Tuesday. Everybody liked it.
UF: they sure did.
Come to think of it. I like Utah basketball.
Utah 85, Fresno State 74
7. Dayton vs. 10. Syracuse: Boeheim has issued himself a one-game suspension for the NCAA tournament. He's been hot of late at the craps table at the nearby Turning Stone Casino and has no time for basketball.
Dayton 73, Syracuse 65
2. Michigan State vs. 15. Middle Tennessee: Michigan State is well known for being a school in Michigan and being a state school. I'll be honest. I haven't seen them play since Michael Jordan left school early back in '79. I'm a little unprepared for this one. I see that his son, Isaiah Thomas, is doing some good work with the Celtics right now.
Michigan State 82, MTSU 54
Round of 32
1. Virginia vs. 8. Texas Tech: Virginia 38, Texas Tech 33
5. Purdue vs. 13. Iona: Iona 77, Purdue 71
11. Gonzaga vs. 3. Utah: Gonzaga 123, Utah 62
7. Dayton vs. 2. Michigan State: Izzos 84, Dayton 39
1. Virginia vs. 13. Iona: Virginia 38, Iona 37
11. Gonzaga vs. 2. Michigan State: Michigan State 70, Gonzaga 66
1. Virginia vs. 2. Michigan State: Michigan State 70, Virginia 69
Round of 64
1. Kansas vs. 16. Austin Peay: Happy 65th birthday to Jayhawks' Center Perry Ellis. Time for him to figure out which Social Security plan best meets his needs. Kansas' powerful backfield combination of Gale Sayers and John Riggins will be enough to overcome Austin Peay's front-line advantages.
The most boring 30 for 30 is kind of about Kansas basketball. It's about some guy named Reggie who buys the rules to basketball and brings them to Tornado Alley and they sing "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" at the end. As the Young Indiana Jones said, "The Cup of Coronado belongs in a Museum!"
Kansas 73, Austin Peay 53
8. Colorado vs. 9. Connecticut: UConn freshman sensation David Banks is among the best student-athletes in the AAC. Unfortunately, most of his success has come on the "student" side of the equation. The economics major's 3.87 GPA is tops in the Department and he has an internship offer from Johnson & Johnson for this summer. Campus insiders report that he may leave school early to pursue economics professionally. His attempt to join the men's basketball team as a walk-on proved less successful.
UConn 57, Colorado 51
5. Merlin vs. 12. SoDak State: Why does everyone from Maryland wear a fanny pack? Why is Campbell's Maryland Style Crab Soup just wet Old Bay?
I favor the FrackRabbits in this one. I watched that SoDak State-NoDak State game the other night. I thought it was kind of odd that the halftime show consisted of the Polyphonic Spree doing layup drills while a man in a Beatles wig did an interpretive dance to "Comfortably Numb" with two combat-loaded cans of Axe body spray in his hands.
SoDak State 90, Maryland 73
4. California vs. 13. Hawaii: Hawaii is hoping to draw Holy Cross in the Final Four. They match up really well with them.
Cal 54, Hawaii 40
6. Arizona vs. 11. Wichita State: Arizona will likely turn down their NCAA bid this year for a shot at the NIT. These kids have never been to New York, son. They have never seen Keith Hernandez smoke a cigarette on no subway. They didn't get to go to Ray Knight and Nancy Grace's wedding. They never ate big sandwiches with Wally Backman or cried themselves to sleep on the Staten Island Ferry in Darryl Strawberry's arms. These kids don't know the mysteries of Jesse Orosoco. They have never called Ron Darling ‘darling.' They've never gone roller skating with David Cone. They don't know what it's like to go sunbathing with Howard Johnson on Rockaway Beach or to give Roger MacDowell a belly raspberry after he falls during ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Everyone should get the chance to ride on a horse drawn carriage through Central Park, driven by none other than Ron Gardenhire. Everyone should get a chance to bend over backwards to kiss the statue of Continental League founder William Shea.
This is really just an ad for my summer program. We match kids from Arizona with members of the '86 Mets. They all do it for free. Except Wally Backman. He charges a $300 fee.
Wichita State 72, Arizona 63
3. Miami vs. 14. Buffalo: Angel Rodriguez is one heck of a point guard. I think he would be great as Norm on a reboot of Cheers I have planned for Summer Stock theatre at the Williamstown, Mass Theatre Festival. I've already got SMU's Nic Moore lined up to play Cliff. Since SMU can't play in the post-season, he will have plenty of time to get prepared for the role.
Miami 82, Buffalo 73
7. Iowa vs. 10. Temple: What is a Quint Kessenich and where is his home planet?
Iowa 67, Temple 62
2. Villanova vs. 15. UNC-Asheville: Wrestling's on at 6:05 in Asheville, if you know what I mean.
Never been to Asheville, but people say it's nice. Conversely, do I love Pittsburgh! I love its landscape. Its great sporting tradition. Its blue collar feel and its down to earth people. I like its narrow roads. PNC Park is such a gem! I love getting French fries on my sandwiches. I like that accent they all have. I can't get enough of that Iron City Beer. Wait, Villanova is in Philadelphia? Since when? Yuck.
Villanova 82, UNC-Asheville 71
Round of 32
1. Kansas vs. 9. UConn: Kansas 104, UConn 97 (4 OT)
12. SoDak State vs. 4. Cal: Cal 66, SoDak 55
11. Wichita State vs. 3. Miami: Miami 73, Wichita State 70
7. Iowa vs. 2. Villanova: Nova 88, Iowa 44
1. Kansas vs. 4. Cal: Kansas 76, Cal 72
3. Miami vs. 2. Villanova: Miami 71, Nova 60
1. Kansas vs 3. Miami: Miami 66, Kansas 62
Round of 64
1. Oregon vs. 16. Holy Cross: In addition to his Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist views, his history at ECU, and his legacy at Baylor, Stu is a pretty big Oregon fan. That boy has a collection of 71 rubber duckies and he told me that Oregon is going to squeak by the Crusaders.
Oregon 61, Holy Cross 59
8. Saint Joe's vs. 9. Cincinnati: Pregame festivities for this one will consist of me ceremonially licking Phil Martelli and Mick Cronin's heads. It will be my second highest profile gig of 2016. I rang in the New Year by giving Bret Bielema and Rob Ryan belly-raspberries outside a Wawa in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Cincinnati 71, Saint Joe's 59
5. Baylor vs. 12. Yale: Yale's a lock in the first round. As an aside, Stu used to be at ECU and Baylor too. ECU went all fine dining and they don't got time for Stu no more. Baylor don't neither. That objectivist nightclub he had going. That place went under. Just like Jimbo's Subs across from the Ethan Allen Shopping Center. Stu is going to move to Presque Isle, Maine and he is going to start a petition to get the WWF to come back to town. They haven't been to Presque Isle since Bob Backlund wore the ten pounds of gold.
Yale 78, Baylor 71
4. Duke vs. 13. UNC-Wilmington: Wrestling's on at 6:05 in Wilmington, if you know what I mean. That's true in Durham too. Duke has a very likeable group of players, a handsome coach, very tech-savvy fan base, and they come from the state with the best state motto (Esse quam videri, "to be, not to seem"). I think they should all retweet this article. And maybe create some sock-puppet accounts to retweet it as well.
Duke 81, UNC-Wilmington 77
6. Texas vs. 11. Northern Iowa: I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about the gaming, fine dining, and entertainment options available at the Turning Stone Casino. Unlike Diamond Joe's Casino in Northern Iowa, Turning Stone Casino is conveniently located just minutes from the intersections of Interstate 81 and Interstate 90. Jim Boeheim is typically perched in front of the penny slots, jeezuming the machine to death when his investments aren't paying up. "It's a Progressive Jackpot," he said, using an industry term. "It's Berber," he said, five minutes earlier, using an industry term he learned in the carpeting business. Located in Verona, New York, Turning Stone is available for weddings, funerals, and Staind concerts.
Gunnery Sgt. Hartman didn't have much nice to say about Texas, but Austin has a lot to offer: the Riverwalk, the Chili Queens, the Rampage, the Alamo, the Alamodome, the Spurs. Wait, it's San Antonio that I like so much. Never been to Austin.
Texas 91, Northern Iowa 81
3. Texas A&M vs. 14. Green Bay: All roads lead to Tomah, Wisconsin. Or to Tony, Wisconsin, the hometown of former Jets safety Jim Leonhard. Or to Bosshard Bogs, WI, which has some cranberries. Or to Ladysmith, Wisconsin, where we met a guy at McDonalds who was from St. Albans. Or to Christmas Mountain, Wisconsin's highest point, which would be the lowest point in seven other states. All roads lead to a lot of different places in Wisconsin. I sure like Wisconsin.
Texas A&M 72, Green Bay 70
7. Oregon State vs. 10. VCU: I know he doesn't coach there anymore, but one time Shaka Smart told me that he learned more from three minute records than he ever did in school. That is some heady and profound stuff, in a Meatloaf/Springsteen/Benatar/Seger/Mellencamp/Seven Mary Three kind of way. If VCU wins this game, I'm going to make a strawberry sheet cake with vanilla frosting and I'm going to write "Love is a Battlefield" on it in cursive.
VCU 73, Oregon State 72
2. Oklahoma vs. 15. Cal-State Bakersfield: This game is kind of like Old Home Week. Isn't it ironic that a team from Bakersfield, the city where all the Okies went in the 1930s, drew the University of Oklahoma in the first round?
Oklahoma 103, Bakersfield 72
Round of 32
1. Oregon vs. 9. Cincinnati: Cincinnati 78, Oregon 72
12. Yale vs. 4. Duke: Duke 87, Yale 80
6. Texas vs. 3. Texas A&M: Texas 82, Texas A&M 80
10. VCU vs. 2. Oklahoma: Oklahoma 76, VCU 70
9. Cincinnati vs. 4. Duke: Cincinnati 104, Duke 97 (4 OT)
6. Texas vs. 2. Oklahoma: Oklahoma 1, Texas 0 (5 OT)
9. Cincinnati vs. 2. Oklahoma: Cincinnati 83, Oklahoma 78
Miami (South Region) vs. Cincinnati (West Region): Cincinnati 83, Miami 82
Kentucky (East Region) vs. Michigan State (Midwest Region): Izzos 73, Kentucky 67
National Championship Game: (is on during Monday Night Raw, so I will be flipping over to basketball when I think of it during the ads)
Cincinnati vs. Michigan State: Cincinnati 84, Michigan State 73
I have already been fitted for my championship ring.
Follow me on Twitter @ClaytonTrutor for more of the same. As always, this is a parody and is not intended to be taken seriously.