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Paste's Sweet 16 Predictions (Based on Musical Alumni)

March 12, 2012  |  11:47am

In most years, our most rigorous measures for handpicking a perfect bracket fail. No matter how hard any of us will try, it’s impossible to predict a Final Four run by Virginia Commonwealth or Butler’s back-to-back title-game appearances. Only two people out of 5.9 million correctly predicted last year’s Final Four. So rather than rely on those reliable measures like RPI, conference wins and strength of schedule, I’ve decided to make my 2012 March Madness picks based solely on each school’s musical alumni.

While Duke may enter March Madness with a 27-6 overall record and an impressive 13-3 conference standing, they’ll get no love in my bracket. Why? The most notable Blue Devil alum in the music industry is Mike Posner. While the Virginia Cavaliers probably won’t do much based on their basketball skills, the school was once home to Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich (as well as David Berman), and that counts for something in my bracket.

Sweet 16 (South Bracket)

No. 1 Kentucky (My Morning Jacket’s Jim James) vs. No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth (Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam)
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In one of the tougher and most hirsute Sweet 16 matchups, Jim James and Sam Beam face off. The My Morning Jacket frontman briefly attended UK as an art student, while the man behind Iron and Wine picked up his B.F.A. at VCU. Beam may have had more experience at his alma mater, but James excites me the way fellow Wildcat one-and-done star John Wall did in 2010. Winner: Kentucky

No. 3 Baylor (Willie Nelson) vs. No. 7 Notre Dame (Ted Leo)
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Ted Leo has the advantage as a Notre Dame graduate, while Willie Nelson dropped out after two years. As a moral principle, however, I refuse to pick Notre Dame in anything (sorry Ted!). Winner: Baylor

Other teams we like: No. 4 Indiana (Booker T. Jones)
Dark Horses: No. 9 Connecticut (Moby), No. 11 Colorado (Devotchka’s Tom Hagerman), No. 16 Western Kentucky (Will Hoge)
Potential Upsets: No. 6 UNLV (The Killers’ Ronnie Vannucci)

Sweet 16 (West Bracket)

No. 1 Michigan State (Frontier Ruckus) vs. No. 12 Long Beach State (Righteous Brothers)
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In probably the weakest Sweet 16 matchup remaining, the blue-eyed duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield unchain Frontier Ruckus’ defense. Winner: Long Beach State

No. 6 Murray State (Chris Thile) vs. No. 10 Virginia (Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich)

Chris Thile’s talents keep this one close, but his one-man virtuosic act falls short at the buzzer against the ACC-tested gold soundz that Malkmus and Nastanovich create on the court. Winner: Virginia

Dark Horses: No. 15 Norfolk State (Marvin Gaye guitarist Gordon Bank)
Potential Upsets: No. 7 Florida (Stephen Stills), No. 2 Missouri (Sheryl Crow)

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