This bracket is so much of a crapshoot that Duke believes it can survive the opening weekend.
So, of course, in this time of great hope and belief you need to know about the Butler Principles. Developed in 2011 after the itty-bitty Bulldogs fell agonizingly short of shocking the universe for the second year in a row, the Butler Principles operate out of the following fool-proof declaration:
No matter how the odds swing in your school’s favor, you are eventually doomed.
Herewith, then, is why your team has no shot and once again will break your burned-out graveyard of a heart into pieces.
Might as well start with the team the principles were named after:
●There’s only one Hickory High per tournament
As much as I love Brad Stevens, only one homespun squad is allowed to become America’s underdog. It’s why Gonzaga was not allowed to beat UCLA the same year George Mason knocked off Connecticut in the region finals. The selection committee was so firm about this, they made Butler and VCU play each other in the Final Four two years ago, which was like Cinderella playing Buster Douglas. Anyhow, Butler is not that team this year. Saint Louis could be that team, but their seed (No. 4) is too low and they were given an unbelievably tough draw by the committee. Valparaiso could be but won’t because . . .
●Your coach can’t be your best shooter
Love those plucky Valparaiso kids, especially that Bryce Drew, squaring up for the win against Ole Miss and shocking the world. But that was 1998. Drew is the Crusaders’ coach now, so Valpo is done by Friday. New Mexico and Iowa State can’t win, either, because Steve Alford and Fred Hoiberg have exhausted their eligibility. Alford actually won it all a year after appearing in John Feinstein’s first book.
●If Feinstein has written a book just about your conference: no chance
Poor Bucknell, poor Patriot League. No shot. None. Ever. (As I am typing, Feinstein just walked into my office to say he wrote a book about the ACC. Who knew.)
●Perennial powerhouses never win when they should
Kansas, Duke and Louisville are all healthy and have tournament-tested coaches and résumés. Storied programs always should win in a wide-open field, which is exactly why none will. Kentucky broke the trend last year, but every year between 2012 and Bob Knight’s unbeaten Hoosiers in 1976, the team supposed to win hardly ever wins it all, including . . .
●No. 1 seeds that aren’t physical enough
I am reluctantly picking Indiana to advance to the Final Four because it is among the highest-scoring teams in the land. Under Tom Crean, the Hoosiers have come back from the brink of probation and been ranked No. 1 longer than anyone this season. They have Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, DeMatha’s own whirling dervish who is more limber than any Cirque de Soleil employee. The Hoosiers are also unfortunately softer than Bounce and Downy. They don’t hit the boards; they massage them. You can push Indiana around. You can mean-mug and make them miss. Indiana is the greatest team in the land when the score is 81-65. But they will lose a 47-43 rockfight against a much tougher, more rugged team. Think Cincinnati with more skill. Think Georgetown, because they don’t have any seniors and . . .