Tommy Hicks: Who’s on the tournament bracket

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OK, I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours. I’m talking about your NCAA Tournament bracket of course.

Nevermind, you don’t have to show me yours. It’s never as much fun that way. Because once you go public with it and your top teams start getting eliminated, well, folks tend to lean more toward sarcasm than sympathy. I don’t wish that for you.

I’m a professional; I’ve had my bracket explode in the opening day of play so many times it’s a wonder I keep returning to the exercise each year, hoping for a better result. So consider this a warning of sorts; if you haven’t already filled out your office bracket, you probably don’t want to read any further. To do so may lead to you being influenced one way or the other, and historically I am not the one to follow in this particular game.

But still, I play on. One year, the team I picked to win it all lost its first-round game. Think about that for a moment.

The fun part of this bracket is what to do with Auburn. I believe the Tigers are one of the top three hottest teams in the country heading into March Madness and they have a good chance, as long as they keep dropping those 3-pointers, to beat anyone they may face. I also believe they received the toughest bracket in the whole shebang.

The Tigers open against New Mexico State in a 5 vs. 12 game, which historically is an upset game. If they survive that they probably get Kansas, which is a strong 4 seed. But I think Auburn is better than Kansas and I’m picking them to win that one. That will likely earn the Tigers a game against North Carolina, which some believe is the second-best team in the country heading into this thing. I think Auburn can win it, but to see how I picked it you have to stick around.

Now, if you have decided to continue reading, to see which games I have selected strictly for the entertainment (comedic) value, then read on. Surely, you will at least be entertained. And when we get to the end — selecting the team to win it all, well, don’t expect any Cinderella to be hanging around. Just sayin’.

OK, let’s do this thing. Here is my bracket fort the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. You read ‘em, I’ll weep (later).

East Regional (just the winners), first round: Duke, VCU, Mississippi State, St. Louis, Maryland, LSU, Minnesota, Michigan State. I’m picking St. Louis to upset Virginia Tech (don’t ask me why). I think Minnesota may surprise Louisville. Second round: Duke, Mississippi State, LSU and Michigan State. Not a lot of surprise there. Regionals: I’ll take Duke over Mississippi State and Michigan State over LSU. Goodbye SEC teams, if indeed they make it that far. I’m picking Duke (duh) to win the East over Michigan State, which I think has the best chance to beat the Dukies in the East bracket.

West Regional: Gonzaga, Syracuse, Murray State, Florida State, Buffalo, Texas Tech, Nevada and Michigan. Murray State in a 5-12 game, you almost have to pick them to claim the upset, especially with an all-world point guard. Then it’s Gonzaga, Florida State, Buffalo and Michigan. Again, not a lot of surprises there. Regionals: I’ll take Florida State to knock off Gonzaga, thanks to its talent and deep bench. I’m picking Michigan to beat Buffalo. I’ll take Michigan as the West Regional winner.

South Regional: Virginia, Ole Miss, Oregon, Kansas State, Villanova, Purdue, Cincinnati, Tennessee. Oregon is another 5-12 upset selection. The Ducks looked pretty good the other night. Maybe they’ll cause troubles for Wisconsin with the brightly colored uniforms as a defensive weapon. Next round: Virginia, Oregon, Villanova and Tennessee. Again, not way out on any limbs. Yet. Regionals: I’m picking Virginia over Oregon, though deep down I wanted to go with the Ducks and Tennessee to beat Villanova. Villanova is usually a tough out in the tournament, but after losing by 20 to Auburn the Vols have a chance to get their second wind. As such, I’m picking the Vols to upset Virginia and win the South.

Midwest Regional: First round winners: North Carolina, Washington, Auburn, Kansas, Iowa State, Houston, Wofford and Kentucky. In the next round I’m picking North Carolina, Auburn, Iowa State and Kentucky as the winning teams. That means Auburn over Kansas, and I’m good with that. Regionals: As much as I want to pick Auburn, and I believe the Tigers can win, I’m going with North Carolina to win that matchup and Kentucky to take down Iowa State. That leaves Kentucky against North Carolina in the regional finals and I’ll take North Carolina in that one.

So, that gives us a Final Four of Duke, Michigan, Tennessee and North Carolina. Duke faces Michigan and I’ll have to go with the Blue Devils and Zion in that one. In the other, I’m selecting the Vols to knock off North Carolina (though another Tennessee vs. Auburn game would have been more fun for us).

In the championship game, it’s Duke vs. Tennessee and, well, the Vols’ luck runs out here, and it’s probably not even a close game. The Blue Devils win yet another national title.

Or they lose in the first round. After all, they now have the Hick Curse to overcome along with all those other teams.