||"March Madness" crystal ball
RELEASED: March 17, 2005
DANVILLE, KYIs there any surer sign of spring than the sight of men and women clustered around the television, eating, drinking, shouting, groaning and cheering on gangs of physical freaks chasing an orange ball?
Well, OK, maybe that IS a year-round phenomenon for Kentucky basketball fans, but for the rest of the world March Madness means the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships. The Road to the Final Four. The Big Dance, Baby.
We asked Centre College faculty and staff for their take on the teams most likely to succeed, to surprise and to disappointas well as any interesting game-watching rituals they might have.
Adam Johnson, Assistant Director of Annual Giving
"I like Illinois, the Zags [Gonzaga], Duke, and UConn to move into the Final Four with the Devils cutting down the nets.
"The surprise team will be the Zags making it to the Final Four, with Charlotte making some noise early on.
"Duke is my overrated team, making its six wins that much more impressive.
"Our big Centre ritual is a bunch of alumni and friends meeting up at Brandon Bowman's ('97) cabin at Lake Cumberland every year for the first and second rounds. Always good times!"
Kacie Powell, Communications Fellow
"Obviously I'm going with my old faithful blue ... Duke Blue, that is. For some reason, I'm feeling some power coming from Villanova in the Syracuse region. Something about almost dying in a plane crash might give them some fuel and then in the Albuquerque region, I'm going to have to go with Gonzaga. I've loved them since they were underdogs and in Chicago, what better team to pick than Illinois?
"I think Old Dominion might surprise us and I have to pick a Sunbelt teamLa. Lafayette. I'm not a Louisville fan so nothing would make me happier than to see them lose.
"Overrated teams: Boston College and UK.
"I always try to watch the games with my family back in Western Kentucky. We all sit around the big screen eating junk food and betting on who is going to win the family "pot" of about $20."
Latricia R. Smith, Facilities Management
"I don't think EKU will take UK, but they have picked up their game since I graduated EKU back in 1998. I expect EKU to come out playing well for the first seven or eight minutes and begin to drop off. The second half will most likely play out like the last few minutes of the first half. UK sometimes goes into games with the underdog having a tendency to play very low key as if it is going to be an easy win. If UK loses their rhythm and the underdog has a good chance of taking over, if they're playing their best. UK wins by 17."
Shawn Lyons, Associate Vice President for Development
"My Final Four is Arizona, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Duke (sorry UK fans). I've got Duke taking it all.
"Most likely to surprise is New Mexico, UTEP, Winthrop and NC State.
"My most overrated teams are Gonzaga, Florida, Kansas and Michigan State.
As for rituals, as always, Brian Miller and I will be joining several of our classmates and fraternity brothers from the Beta Class of '81 at one of the tournament sitesthis year we'll be headed to Nashville for the opening round action this Friday and Sunday. We're expecting to be joined by classmates from Houston, Denver and Portland (Ore.) as well as some from Kentucky and other Centre friends who live in the Nashville area. We do this every year. Among the highlights over the years was a trip to the opening round in Orlando several years ago, where Brian managed to get us front-row seats at mid-court, where we sat next to Julius "Dr. J" Erving.
James E. Booker, Assistant Basketball Coach
"My Final Four: Illinois, Wake Forest, Syracuse, UConn
"Most likely to surprise: New Mexico, UAB
"Overrated teams: Washington, Duke
"Rituals: I'm a Louisville fan ... sometimes I'd rather not watch them play and just periodically check the score, it is way too nerve racking to watch the whole game. I think they play much better when I don't watch the game."
Jeanine Sanders, Development & Alumni Affairs
"Well, I think that EKU will keep it close until the last several minutes. Wouldn't it be crazy if EKU did win? I can't bet on these games because I don't really follow any particular team. I do like the hairdo on that good player from Florida though!"
Keith Dunn, Associate Professor of Chemistry
"Most likely to surprise teams include Syracuse (unfortunately in UK's bracket) to beat Duke and maybe UK, Pitt and Texas (wicked No. 9 picks). Pitt takes out Washington and Texas loses a close one to Illinois.
"Georgia Tech is my surprise Final Four pick together with North Carolina, Syracuse and Illinois. Illinois wins it all.
"By the way, Thomas Manual told me that UK would be lucky to survive EKU on Thursday. I confidently gave him 15 points on a $2 bet (the maximum number of quarters I can take from my wife's laundry money before she suspects anything). I'm already planning how to spend my earnings!"
Bill Levin, Professor of Art History
"My scattered ideas:
"UK is still a year away, despite its usual very good team this year. UK unfortunately will lose to Duke in its third game. "So will Louisville. "Florida is now looking surprisingly strong but will lose in the second, possibly the third round. "Among all SEC teams, LSU goes the farthest. "Surprise-team-of-the-year Villanova will lose in the tournament's final game to Illinois. The latter is balanced, very experienced, and consistent; it ram-rodded the rest of the Big Ten except for one meaningless slip-up at the end of the regular season. The No. 1 team for most of the year will finish that way. "I have spoken!"
Stephanie Dragan, Volleyball Coach
"Region winners, Duke, Connecticut, Wake Forest and Illinois. Duke will be the champion. "I think Michigan State will be a surprise team. Pitt as well. I think Oklahoma State is the overrated team. "I don't have rituals for basketball madness; I'm a volleyball coach."
Tim Ungs, Media Associate
"I thought UConn was peaking at just the right time until they were crushed by Syracuse in the Big East Finals. My alma mater, Notre Dame, once again got shunted (deservedly) to the NIT. That leaves my other (grad school) alma mater, the University of Minnesota, an eight seed. They have a rock-bottom graduation rate (as in zero, for the time period studied by the Knight Foundation Commission). That must mean they're really good players! Plus, they have a truly laughable nickname, one of the worst in all of college sports. Goooooo, Gophers!"
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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