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Why Syracuse will beat Duke in title game? Because my facebook friends said so

(DISCLAIMER: If you are a Syracuse fan and are looking to find a reason with substance on why I am so certain the Orange will win a second national title and first since Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick,  Gerry McNamara and Co. did it in 2003, you might want to stop reading.)

Ok, so the odds of picking a perfect March Madness bracket and winning the $1 billion grand prize are estimated to be about 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

To be honest, I don’t even know what a quintillion is, but I know that’s a whole lot of zeroes.

I’ve been filling out brackets for years, and usually find myself throwing mine away sometimes before the first weekend of the tournament is over.

So this time, I turned to Facebook for a little help. Everyone knows that Facebook friends usually have all the answers. Besides, all of those annoying game requests I have received over the year, I figure it was time for me to send a game request as well.

So I solicited 67 Facebook friends and asked each of them to pick a winner in one game of the tournament as I filled out my bracket.

I didn’t want advice from my friends who know sports. Those are the ones who, like me, have been filling out brackets for years and not one of them has ever had a perfect bracket.

So I wanted folks who knew little about college basketball.

I only had two criteria for my 67 guest pickers, who were all females:

1. They needed to know very little about sports and

2. They weren’t allowed to solicit help from anyone else or use Google to research.

Trust me, they all met the first criteria with ease.

Need proof?

Check out some of the responses.

“Is this basketball?”

“What’s a Cal-Poly? Seriously, that doesn’t even sound like sports.”

One by one, the messages came to my inbox, volunteering their services to help fill out my bracket.

One by one, I would send the matchups and they responded with their picks as I filled out my bracket.

And they had all sorts of reasons for making some of their picks.

One picked Oregon in the first round because she liked their uniforms.

Another picked Baylor in the first round because she lives in Texas.

Someone picked Kentucky over KansasState because if she had to live in one of the two states, she would choose Kentucky.

One picked Louisville to beat North CarolinaState in the second round because Louisville reminds her of Louis Vuitton purses. (Now THAT’S March Madness).

And one picked Cal-Poly over WichitaState because she thought Cal-Poly had a “cute nickname.” (I guess I probably should’ve told her that their nickname is the Mustangs, not Poly.)

One even used “eeny meeny miney moe,” which bounced Louisiana Lafayette from the Sweet 16 with a loss to Oregon.

The experiment ended with Syracuse, Virginia, Duke and Oregon reaching the Final Four and Syracuse beating Duke in the title game.

The biggest upset came in the opening round, with No. 15 Wofford beating No. 2 Michigan.

Her logic?

“I have never heard of them (Wofford) and oftentimes we underestimate something or someone if we know nothing about them,” she said. “I’m just taking a chance.”

And in a way, that’s all I was doing anyway.

Taking a chance, trying win that billion dollars.

By the way, I filled out a second bracket, flipping a coin to decide each game.

That one ended up with UCLA, Providence, Oregon and Kentucky in the Final Four, with Kentucky beating Providence in the title game.

I think I’m sticking with my Facebook friends.

Tulane sports chat with Advocate contributor Scott Kushner

Tulane sports chat with Advocate contributor Scott Kushner

Tulane athletics chat with Advocate contributor Scott Kushner

Live chat during the NBA All-Star Game

Two months to go and Masters site in snow

The Masters golf tournament, widely hailed as a harbinger of spring, starts eight weeks from today (Thursday, April 10).

But Wednesday, Feb. 12, eight weeks before the final practice round and Par-3 tournament, the home of the Masters was draped in snow and ice from the latest winter storm to sweep across the southeast.

From the looks of things, there was more white stuff on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club than in Sochi, the balmy home of this year’s “Winter” Olympics.

The photo below, a screen shot from Augusta TV station WJBF, shows an ice-covered Magnolia Lane, the famous entrance to the club, littered with magnolia limbs snapped off by ice from trees lining the drive.

The club, whose maintenance budget budget it was once written is virtually unlimited, should be expected to get things cleaned up in time for the 77th edition of golf’s most storied tournament. But safe to say the folks at Augusta National don’t have to deal with these kinds of weather problems every year.

One would expect, though, the azaleas and dogwoods won’t have a chance to bloom prematurely like they did before the 2012 Masters.

In case you’re wondering, the only golfer with local ties who is so far qualified for this year’s Masters is former University High golfer Patrick Reed.

Reed, who won two NCAA golf team titles at Augusta State University, is in the field because of his win at last year’s PGA Tour stop in Greensboro (Reed also won the Humana Challenge in January in Palm Springs, Calif.).

At this point, it’s likely former LSU golfers Andrew Loupe, John Peterson and David Toms (the latter two played in last year’s Masters because they tied for fourth at the 2012 U.S. Open) would have to win a PGA Tour event to receive an invitation.

They’ve got eight more weeks to try to get that done, starting with this week’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.


Tulane athletics chat with Advocate contributor Scott Kushner