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The List: Getting deeper into March Madness

Is it fair to call the second week of the NCAA Tournament March Mania? You know, keeping with the whole alliteration theme and all.

It’s fine if you don’t want to. You know I still will. So then I got to thinking …

Usually when I write a column about the tournament, I make my predictions before it begins and leave it alone. This year — for some odd, sadistic reason — I’m picking back up where I left off. First of all, my profound apologies to anyone who took my advice on Washington-Mississippi State game. Here’s what I was thinking when I made that pick … Ummm … Okay then, moving on.

I hear Cleveland State University’s Web site hits skyrocketed with about eight minutes left in the team’s game against Wake Forest. Once again, a “David” caused America to send up a unanimous chorus of, “Who is this team?!” Way to go Vikings. Too bad for you Arizona decided to steal some more thunder in the second round.

But enough small talk. I’m pretty sure you all want to know my picks from here on out. Fine, I know you don’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Today on “The List,” the best of what’s left in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Biggest upset: Arizona over Louisville. And why not? Louisville had twice as many turnovers against Siena and haven’t committed less than 19 in two tournament games. The Wildcats, however, have a plus-five turnover margin. That’s like fried chicken on Sunday for a team that loves the transition game as much as they do. If Arizona gets 15-20 points off the fast break, the Cardinals are going home early.

Team I most owe an apology: Western Kentucky. I didn’t give the Hilltoppers much of a chance of surviving the first round. Correction. I gave them a snowball’s chance in El Salvador. Then they beat Illinois in a game (cliché coming) that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. They followed that with a two-point loss to Gonzaga. What exactly is a Hilltopper, by the way?

Biggest power player: Michigan State. Nobody with a halfway functional brain stem should want to play the Spartans right now. Southern California was clearly a better defensive team than MSU, so what happens? The Spartans shoot the Trojans out of the gym. Throw in some man dresses, swords and deformed underworld creatures, and you’ve got yourself a heck of a movie. What? I’m just saying.

Biggest long shot left: Xavier, without a doubt. The Musketeers beat Portland State, as they should have. They would have lost to Wisconsin had the Badgers figured out you’re actually supposed to put the ball inside the orange circle attached to the big windshield-looking thingy.

National champ: Sticking with Memphis. The 3-point shooting concerns me, though. The Tigers have knocked them down so far, but misses equal long rebounds. Long rebounds equal running, something Missouri is very well conditioned for. Ball movement and restful nights rest are the best weapons Memphis has from this point forward.