If you woke up this morning with a certain tingle on the left side of your body, don’t panic — you’ve probably got a severe case of March Madness. Either that, or you’re having a heart attack and should probably go directly to the emergency room. Seriously, go! Now!
Still here? Good. That means that you’re as fired up for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as we are. You’ve probably already printed out your bracket, eyed a few upsets and chipped $10 into the office pool. But, if you’re like us, you’re probably also looking for that inside edge … a few tips that’ll have you cutting down the nets (and counting some cash) on April 6, when the NCAA champ is crowned.
Well, we think we’ve found it: Music.
That’s because this year’s field of 64 (or actually, 65, given that Alabama State and Morehead State will tip off Tuesday for the right to be crushed by #1 seed Louisville) has a decidedly musical flair. There are colleges from huge sonic hot spots who have a legitimate shot at taking home the title, and a bunch of low-seeded teams from places with solid musical pedigrees that could end up shocking the world. Heck, Moby, Three 6 Mafia and Daniel Johnston are all in the conversation.
So, for your wagering benefit, here’s our look at Musical March Madness — our favorite teams, based solely on their musical roots: famous alumni, hometown scenes, etc. May it guide you to victory. Hey, it’s probably as reliable as flipping a coin.
Louisville — #1 seed, Midwest Region: My Morning Jacket. Will Oldham. Slint. Rachel’s. Rodan. Louisville’s contributions to American indie are slicker than head coach Rick Pitino’s hairstyle … and totally deserving of a #1 seed.
North Carolina — #1 seed, South Region: Located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, an indie mecca in its own right. Merge Records was founded here, so was the late, lamented Mammoth Records. Home to bands like the Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Ben Folds Five, Southern Culture on the Skids and, uh, the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Perhaps the most solid musical #1 in the entire tournament.
Connecticut — #1 seed, West Region: Hey, Moby went to UConn! So did folk singer Judy Collins. And the guy who played Horshack on “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Also, Rivers Cuomo, late Plasmatics yelper Wendy O. Williams and the Monkees’ Peter Tork all grew up in Storrs, where the university is located. Based on musical pedigree alone, these guys could run the table.
Pittsburgh — #1 seed, East Region: Ninteenth-century composer Stephen Foster (“Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races”) hailed from Pitt. So does punk act Anti-Flag. Bret Michaels is sort of from there too, though, to be honest, we’re not sure how they got a #1 seed over Memphis.
Our Sleeper Picks:
Memphis — #2 seed, West Region: Perhaps you’ve heard of Memphis, the place where blues, R&B, rock and even crunk got their start. Sun Studios is here, and Elvis, B.B. King and Johnny Cash all kicked around the city in the early ’50s. More recently, the Three 6 Mafia and punk troubadour Jay Reatard have called Memphis home, and current “American Idol” favorites Alexis Grace and Lil Rounds are also from there. Too bad Memphis plays in the “American Idol” of college conferences, Conference USA.
Texas — #7 seed, East Region: Located in Austin, “the live music capital of the world.” Stevie Ray Vaughan cut his teeth here, Willie Nelson holed up here and Daniel Johnston worked at a McDonald’s here. And bands like …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Explosions in the Sky and White Denim still call the city home. Oh yeah, and South by Southwest is here, too.
Washington — #4 seed, West Region: Is in Seattle. We think there were some bands from there or something.
Dayton — #11 seed, Midwest Region: The Breeders and Guided By Voices are from Dayton! So was Brainiac! We want them to win the entire tournament because of this.
Portland State — #13 seed, East Region: Apparently, Courtney Love went here, but she didn’t graduate. In our books, that makes them good enough for a first-round upset of #4 Xavier.
Temple — #11 seed, South Region: Bill Cosby went to Temple. So did Daryl-Freaking-Hall, Jimmy Pop and Evil Jared Hasselhoff from the Bloodhound Gang and 50 percent of hippie/hardcore act Mewithoutyou. Solid enough for a run to the Sweet 16.
Siena — #9 seed, Midwest Region: On “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” we’re told that über-minx Olivia Benson graduated from Siena. Screw it, we’re picking them to win it all.
The NCAA Tournament begins Thursday, and you can check back throughout the week for more of your favorite stars’ memories of games past and picks for the 2009 tourney.