I would love to tell you that I paid close attention to college basketball all year long and that I have a deep knowledge of each team's relative strengths and weaknesses. That would be a lie, however, and you deserve better than that. So instead of giving you a bracket of guesses and predictions based on what I remember from 2003, I've assembled a more precise tournament ballot. This is the Scrabble Bracket, and the rules are simple:
1. Calculate each team's Scrabble score based on the school name
2. Don't count the words "college" or "university"
3. In the event of a tie, the higher seed advances
Let's see how it turned out!
The Manhattan-Hampton matchup presents a problem right out of the gate since they're equally seeded, but both wind up being lower than the team they'd face in the second round anyways. BYU gets 14 letters from B, H, M, and Y alone - more than enough to crush the Rebels.
Kentucky keeps the undefeated streak going all the way to the Elite Eight ... when it loses to 15 seed/holder of the letter X New Mexico State. Unlucky that Wichita State had to face the Aggies so early, but maybe it's better to get knocked out quickly if losing is inevitable.
Outside of Oregon -- one of the worst teams in the tournament, Scrabble score-wise -- this is a stacked region. Texas Southern and VCU make for a great third-round matchup, and Oklahoma State goes on a deep run before getting flattened by "commonwealth," which is worth 24 points by itself.
First Wisconsin falls to a 16 seed, then Duke gets pummeled by North Florida. SMU wins the tiebreaker over UCLA, and Eastern Washington feels like it should be worth more than 24 points, but it isn't. (Though on an actual Scrabble Board it would undoubtedly hit a double word score or two.) It loses to Alabama-Birmingham as the Blazers snag a spot in the Final Four.
Villanova squeaks by Lafayette and, as we've all predicted, UC Irvine takes advantage of an underwhelming region and beats Michigan State in the Elite Eight. This would have worked out better for the Friars if the school was named Prxvidence.
Cut down those nets, Shaka Smart! You've just won the weirdest Final Four possible.