First things first, if you have not entered already, make sure you take a moment to participate in The Sports Illustrated Bracket Challenge. You can win awesome prizes!
If you are strictly just a hardcore Cubs fan or just do not follow college basketball, but need a logically illogical method to make your eleventh hour picks just to partake in the Madness with your coworkers, family, or friends, here is a Cubbies Crib and Chicago Cubs associated picks to jump start your way out of Round One and on to being a winner. And yes, Cubs and winner were used in the same sentence.
#8 Colorado St. vs #9 Missouri
Division rival and former team of arch nemesis Ryan “On the Right Side of the Rivalry” Theriot, the St. Louis Cardinals, reside in Missouri. COLORADO ST.
#5 Oklahoma St. vs #12 Oregon
You may not have confidence in Oklahoma St. because of the injury situation regarding Cowboy Scott Baker, but Gold Glove winner Darwin Barney is an Oregon St. Beaver that does not want to see Civil War rival Oregon have any kind of success. OKLAHOMA ST.
#4 St. Louis vs #13 New Mexico St.
Home of the Cardinals? Don’t want any part of that. NEW MEXICO ST.
#6 Memphis vs #11 St. Mary’s
Memphis is in the state of Tennessee, home of the Smokies, the Cubs Double A affiliate. MEMPHIS.
#3 Michigan St. vs #14 Valparaiso
Michigan St.’s campus is in East Lansing and the Cubbie connection here is that the Midwest League Lansing Lugnuts were a Cubs affiliate from 1999 to 2004, a period in which Michigan St. really came onto the scene. The Spartans won the national title in 2000. MICHIGAN ST.
#7 Creighton vs #10 Cincinnati
If you forgot about Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman’s disdain for Cubs fans, you’ve just been reminded. Former GM Jim Hendry also spent time as the head coach of the Creighton baseball program. CREIGHTON.
#1 Gonzaga vs #16 Southern University
If logic is not good enough for you, Gonzaga is in Spokane, Washington; the birthplace of Cubs legend and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. GONZAGA.
#8 Pittsburgh vs #9 Wichita St.
During the good ol’ days of the Hendry era, Pittsburgh practically served as the Cubs AAAA affiliate, getting fleeced by the then Cubs GM multiple times. As a thank you for Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, and Randall Simon. PITTSBURGH.
#5 Wisconsin vs #12 Ole Miss
Manager Dale Sveum’s playing and coaching careers are best associated with the Milwaukee Brewers, so the nod goes to the Badgers of Madison. WISCONSIN.
#4 Kansas St. vs #13 La Salle
The Cubs expanded a partnership with some purple Wildcats this past off season regarding the use of Wrigley Field, among other business relations. Of course that was with the Northwestern Wildcats and not the Kansas St. Wildcats, but considering that Northwestern will not crack into the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history any time soon, close enough? KANSAS ST.
#6 Arizona vs #11 Belmont
Arizona is home of the Cactus League and Mesa, the Spring destination where our Cubs currently are gearing up. ARIZONA.
#3 New Mexico vs #14 Harvard
The sports headlines in Chicago have been monopolized by the departure of linebacker Brian Urlacher from the Bears. With a majority of Cubs fans based in the Chicago doubling as Bears fans, here’s to the former New Mexico Lobos linebacker/free safety. NEW MEXICO.
#7 Notre Dame vs #10 Iowa St.
Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija provides the current player connection here. NOTRE DAME.
#8 North Carolina vs #9 Villanova
The Tarheels had recruited former Cub All Star Derrek Lee to play both baseball and basketball at Chapel Hill. NORTH CAROLINA.
#5 VCU vs #12 Akron
Former Cub set up man Sean Marshall is a VCU Ram. The Cubs are still waiting for the return on his trade to the Reds to surface, so in the mean time we’ll take a Rams win. VCU.
#4 Michigan vs #13 South Dakota St.
The Wolverines are well known for the Fab Five on the hardwood, but the university has a long history of baseball draftees as well. Recent Cubs connections include third rounder Jake Fox, fourth rounder Rich Hill, and 14th rounder Bobby Scales. Hopefully for the bracket’s sake the maize and blue fair better than those ex Cubs. MICHIGAN.
#5 UNLV vs #12 California
The University of Nevada Las Vegas, the home town of former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux and the sports betting capitol this time of year. UNLV.
#3 Marquette vs #14 Davidson
Current Cubs TV play by play man Len Kasper is a Golden Eagle, graduating with a degree in public relations in 1993. MARQUETTE.
#7 Illinois vs #10 Colorado
Illinois is the home state for the Cubs and the Rockies have fleeced Theo Epstein and Company of Tyler Colvin for Ian Stewart. Go Illini! For full disclosure, I am a graduate of Urbana Champaign. ILLINOIS.
#2 Miami vs #15 Pacific.
The recent identity change of the Marlins should be thanked for taking Carlos Zambrano off the Cubs hands, even if the North Siders got nothing in return (read Chris Volstad) and practically paid all of the salary. MIAMI.