This Oakland region is nagging at me, and not because of the inclusion of Memphis as the "weak" No. 1 seed.
No, it's that there are some easy games to pick here, which will inevitably make the way I go the wrong one. There's no way I'm circling Oral Roberts, Belmont, Alabama, Xavier, San Diego St., Bradley, or Kent St., which means at least three of them will win.
Then, there are the curious cases of Marquette, Indiana, Gonzaga, and Kansas, each good enough for the Elite Eight, each just iffy enough to fall in the first round.
Before we get to the Oakland picks though, let's not forget tonight's play-in game between Monmouth and Hampton, both fine sacrificial lambs for Villanova. If Hampton makes it in by the way, it will by far and away have the lowest RPI (284) of any team in the tournament. Southern is the current low team with an RPI of 132.
So, er, good luck.
The Oakland region
1. Memphis vs. 16. Oral Roberts University -- Here's the thing about Memphis: Either they really are the weakest No. 1 seed that everybody is talking about, or John Calipari's crew could take that distinction with a chip on their collective shoulder and ride the "no respect" card all the way to the Final Four. Willie McGinest can be team mascot.
2. UCLA vs. 15. Belmont -- The Belmont Marauders would have a better shot at beating these UCLA Bruins.
3. Gonzaga vs. 14. Xavier -- There's some doubt out there in Gonzaga, which is fine by me. Adam Morrison has become an instant fave in New England for wearing a Red Sox hat. Oh, right, there is his Larry Bird-type game to like, too, but still ... that Sox cap. There are probably a few out there who think Whitey's not such a bad dude because in the last photo taken of him, he's wearing a Sox cap. "Good gosh, he's one of us!"
4. Kansas vs. 13. Bradley -- I know they're young, but what the Jayhawks showed against Texas in the Big 12 title game was impressive. Don't ask me how impressive just yet. Just, impressive. Most impressive. And let's not forget how young Syracuse was just three years ago.
5. Pittsburgh vs. 12. Kent State -- Pittsburgh is not a Final Four team. I need to keep telling myself that. Come on, say it with me. "Pittsburgh is not a Final Four team." Thank you.
6. Indiana vs. 11. San Diego State -- The Hoosiers aren't exactly all jacked up about having to travel all the way out west to face San Diego St. I'm not exactly pumped about picking a Mountain West entry in the upset, but here it goes anyway.
7. Marquette vs. 10. Alabama -- The last time it was in the tourney, Marquette made its Final Four run back in 2003. Now, its first season in the powerful Big East, the Golden Eagles look to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. OK, sorry did that just sound like your average CBS promo? Maybe I'm a little too excited to welcome Clark Kellogg back into my life.
8. Arkansas vs. 9. Bucknell - Every year I pick Arkansas, I am forced to make a big, fat X where its name once stood in the field. I'm not making that mistake this year, which means they'll probably beat Bucknell. I don't care. I have my morals.
1. Memphis vs. 9. Bucknell -- Just wondering if this game will mysteriously disappear in a few years like the ones that supposedly happened in Amherst.
2. UCLA vs. 7. Marquette -- I think I feel it happening. The UCLA bandwagon is coming down the road, and I'm sticking my thumb out. I can't stop it now.
3. Gonzaga vs. 11. San Diego St. -- A fire raged through some apartments under construction at Gonzaga yesterday, sure to prompt 8,000 dumb lines about which was hotter, that or the school basketball team. Well, there's your first at least.
4. Kansas vs. 5. Pittsburgh -- Both teams are a bit too overrated in my mind. But based on Pittsburgh's loss to Syracuse in the Big East final, I have to go with Kansas.
1. Memphis vs. 4. Kansas -- I don't want to pick Kansas. I really don't.
2. UCLA vs. 3. Gonzaga -- OK, Dick Vitale is on this bandwagon, too, which has me extremely concerned. Excuse me while I slip him a Xanax.
2. UCLA vs. 4. Kansas -- Might I remind you, Dickie V is on this bandwagon. It's time I got off. Even if that does mean ...
Final Four entrant: Kansas