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 March 19

by Carolina

Who did you pick to win the NCAA National Championship?

The cultural dominance of March Madness is kept organized by the multitude of bracket challenges plastered to TV, phone and computer screens weeks before the tournament starts.

Former President Barack Obama’s brackets have received much fanfare since he took office 12 years ago.

For the first time in those 12 years, No. 44 picked Gonzaga to win the national championship over his political home state of Illinois.

His other two Final Four picks were Michigan and Baylor.

NBA Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal took the easy route and picked his alma mater LSU to win the tournament, which means the Tigers beat the Bulldogs in the Final Four.

LSU would need to beat No. 1 Michigan, No. 4 Florida State, No. 3 Texas, GU and No. 1 Illinois to earn the title.

Former teammate Dwyane Wade also doesn’t fancy the Zags as he has them falling in the Final Four to No. 1 Michigan.

Three of his four Final Four picks are from the Big 10 – the Wolverines, Ohio State and Illinois.

His champion is Michigan over Illinois which would be the first intraconference final since Kansas beat Oklahoma in 1988.

Current WNBA star and former No. 1 pick out of Tennessee, Candance Parker sided with the Bulldogs. She has them beating Illinois to win the title.

Her Final Four includes the aforementioned teams as well as Alabama and Baylor.

The first truly celebrity bracket is from Matt James, the lead for the season of the Bachelor that just concluded. He went with the Zags to hoist the trophy on April 5.

National basketball reporters are also hopping on the Bulldog hype-train before it leaves the station Saturday night.

From ESPN, Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale and Rece Davis locked their brackets with GU victorious. Seth Greenberg was the only one to pick a different team – Baylor.

Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated and Dana O’Neil of the Athletic also picked the Zags (Forde said over Illinois and O’Neil said over Baylor).

From CBS Sports, Seth Davis, Gary Parrish, Jerry Palm and Dennis Dodd all went with a GU-Illinois final with the Bulldogs pulling out with their first NCAA title.

The only defector from CBS was Matt Norlander who flipped that to an Illinois victory over the Zags.

And the NCAA insider Andy Katz also has the Bulldogs taking out the Illini to win the NCAA Tournament.

ESPN’s Tournament Challenge tracks all brackets and America has picked the Zags to win in 35% of all brackets.

Rounding out the top four are the other three No. 1 seeds. Illinois at 15.4%, Baylor at 10.2% and Michigan at 7.8%.

ESPN received 17.2 million brackets in 2019, but as of Thursday afternoon, ESPN has breached 10 million brackets this season.

Original posted at www.spokesman.com

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