And the winner is . . .
Clint Eastwood.Huh? Oh, sorry. Let me start again.
The winner is Kansas.
Or North Carolina.
The winner is any one of the four and whoever tells you he is certain which team is going to win the NCAA basketball tournament is either drunk or Dick Vitale.
There is one thing I do know, though.
Get me to New Orleans. I can hardly wait.
The Final Four this year is the greatest collection of college basketball heavyweights since I can't remember when. Since forever, maybe.
There are no North Carolina States sneaking in hoping to steal this one. There are no Villanovas or Penns or North Carolina Charlottes or Marquettes in these semifinals.
All we've got are No. 1 or No. 2 seeds, teams that at various times in the tournament have looked positively frightening.
Sure, there were some rough moments in the early rounds, but that's one of the things that is so impressive. Almost any team looking to win a national title is going to have to fight through difficult times and Michigan, North Carolina and Kansas certainly did that.
You could even make the case that Kentucky's romp into the semifinals - its closest tournament game was a 21-point win over Utah - could hurt the Wildcats because they haven't really been tested lately.
But that's just the point, it seems to me. With these teams, you can make any case you want.
Take Kansas. Even before the Midwest Regionals got to St. Louis, I had Indiana written down in ink. Not to win the regional, to win the whole tournament. This was one of Bobby Knight's best teams - you could tell when it didn't lose a number of games early in the season, which is a Knight trademark - and nobody is better than he is at this time of the year.
But then I caught on to the way Kansas was playing defense and I began to have my doubts. Tenacious doesn't begin to describe the way Roy Williams has the Jayhawks hounding their opponents.
So when Kansas stripped Indiana of the ball twice in succession as the Hoosiers were making their final bid late in Saturday's regional final, you could only tip your hat and say - as Knight did - that the better team had surely won.
As for North Carolina, what can you say about a team that falls behind by 15 points, lets Cincinnati sneak a man downcourt unmolested to tie the game in the final minutes and then blows a dunk at the buzzer that would have given it the win in regulation?
You can say it must be a great team because it won anyway. Won going away in overtime despite all its problems.
Which brings us to Michigan. Here is a team that has returned position for position the players who went to the championship game last year and it is probably going to be the biggest underdog in New Orleans.
Look at the relatively easy road it had in the West Regional once Arizona was upset, people are bound to say. Look at the trouble it had against UCLA, which it trailed by 19 points. Look at the trouble it had against Temple, which it trailed by 10.
The Wolverines are underachievers for sure. Kentucky will clean their clocks in the semifinals Saturday.
But I don't necessarily see it that way. Michigan is surely the most inconsistent team in the tournament, but it is also the scariest. Get the ball to Chris Webber near the basket - why do I think there will be some emphasis on that in practice that week? - and it's all over.
A little stability is all the Wolverines need, as in two good periods in the same game. This is not something that is out of the question, you know.
Because of its lopsided victories coming in, Kentucky figures to be the favorite in New Orleans and no one can have any quarrel with that. Even in a tournament as loaded as this one, you need somebody to shoot for.
But, all right, just let me get out here on this limb and I'll tell you how I see it. Michigan to upset Kentucky in one semifinal and Kansas to do the same to North Carolina in the other one.
After which Kansas wins it all. By a point. In overtime. Concluding a tournament that turns out to be as good as it looks going in.