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An NCAA Bracket with a Jewish twist

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03/15/2010

So, it’s tournament time. Everyone is frantically filling out their brackets, hoping to gain pride and maybe some cash. Everyone has a different strategy for picking the Final Four. Some people pick underdogs, some pick according to mascots, and some pick by using what they think is knowledge yet always end up losing. Well, The Great Rabbino has decided to help you out. TGR is filling out your brackets with a Jewish twist this year. I want to state clearly that I am NOT responsible for you losing your pool. This is just a fun, Jewish, and different way of trying to win your bracket. And remember that God influenced these picks…I am a rabbi-in-training after all.

After tons of extensive research I came up with this crazy and completely illogical system. Picks were considered by the team’s number of Jewish players/coaches, seeding numbers (#1 = God, # 10 = 10 Commandments, etc), the university’s Hillel/Jewish studies programs, the number of Jews on campus, the surrounding city’s Jewish presence, Jewish sports alumni and a slight TGR bias.

MIDWEST REGION ROUND 1
Kansas vs. Lehigh – While Lehigh has a Jewish player, Matt Shamis, all #1 seeds will advance because the number one stands for God.
UNLV vs. Northern Iowa – I believe Northern Iowa was the home to the Rubashkins. UNLV wins by default.
Michigan State vs. New Mexico State – Hank Greenberg’s Michigan roots push MSU ahead to the next round.
Maryland vs. Houston – Maryland boasts one of the best Hillels in the country.
Tennessee vs. San Diego State – Player Steven Pearl gets the Volunteers to round two.
Georgetown vs. Ohio – Even with less Jews on campus Ohio wins by a Hillel.
Oklahoma State vs. Georgia Tech – Neither school is strikingly Jewish, so #10 gets the nod representing the 10 Commandments.
Ohio State vs. Santa Barbra – UCSB has Jordan Weiner, but OSU’s stadium is the Schottenstein center. Jewish home beats out Jewish player.

WEST REGION ROUND 1
Syracuse vs. UVM – The number one stands for God, which is unbeatable (unless it’s Ditka).
Gonzaga vs. Florida State – The Christian school wins this one. Let the interfaith dialogue begin.
Butler vs. UTEP – Butler has better Jewish life on campus.
Vanderbilt vs. Murray State – Vanderbilt’s quick growing Jewish population gets them to round two.
Xavier vs. Minnesota – Sigmund Harris was an All American quarterback at Minnesota and a part of the tribe (yes, that is the best we can do).
Pittsburgh vs. Oakland – Pittsburgh Hillel trumps Oakland’s chances.
BYU vs. Florida – Nimrod Tishman, while not playing much, creates the Jewish/Israeli upset here.
Kansas State vs. North Texas – My regular bracket won’t have this, but my Jewish bracket does. North Texas has a great Jewish studies program and advances.

EAST REGION ROUND 1
Kentucky vs. ETSU – God is one!
Texas vs. Wake Forest – Current Jewish Major Leaguer Scott Feldman plays for the Rangers. Texas pride!
Temple vs. Cornell – TGR is so upset that Jews are playing each other in the first round. Cornell has two and Temple has one, so upset in the making. 
Wisconsin vs. Wofford – Wisconsin is home to tons of Jewish summer camps. Not sure what Wofford is known for.
Marquette vs. Washington – The better Hillel moves on.
New Mexico vs. Montana – Umm…so…I have a Rabbinical School friend from New Mexico?
Clemson vs. Missouri – Numbers system. The #10 Commandments trump the days in a week (#7).
West Virginia vs. Morgan State – UWV at least has a Hille1.

SOUTH REGIONAL ROUND 1
Duke vs. (ARPB/WIN) – #1 God is with Duke and Jon Scheyer.
California vs. Louisville – Last season California had David Liss. His legacy continues.
Texas A&M vs. Utah State – There are more Jews in Texas. That’s a fact.
Purdue vs. Siena – Purdue has a Hillel.
Notre Dame vs. Old Dominion – Continuing our interfaith theme.
Baylor vs. Sam Houston – Baylor has a Hillel.
Richmond vs. St. Mary’s – Mary was a Jew.
Villanova vs. Robert Morris – Seems to be the interfaith region.

MIDWEST REGIONAL ROUND 2
Kansas vs. UNLV – God is still #1.
MSU vs. Maryland – Maryland’s Hillel continues to roll.
Tennessee vs. Ohio – This time it’s Bruce Pearl who leads the way.
GT vs. OSU – Shalom in the Home. OSU marches on.

WEST REGIONAL ROUND 2
Syracuse vs. Gonzaga – Player Brandon Reese pushes ‘Cuse ahead.
Butler vs. Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt’s Jewish studies program trumps Butler.
Minnesota vs. Pittsburgh – The Squirrel Hill faithful keeps Pitt in it.
Florida vs. North Texas – Tishman’s prayers keep them alive.

EAST REGIONAL ROUND 2
Kentucky vs. Texas – God remains on top.
Cornell vs. Wisconsin – Jon Jaques and Eitan Chemerinski help Cornell move on to the Sweet Sixteen.
Washington vs. New Mexico – Yikes again. Washington has more Jews?
Missouri vs. West Virginia – Been to Wheeling, WV and it has a nice synagogue.

SOUTH REGIONAL ROUND 2
Duke vs. California – Scheyer will play a huge factor in the tournament. Stay tuned.
Texas A&M vs. Purdue – More Jews on campus.
Notre Dame vs. Baylor – The Hillel beats the Church.
St. Mary vs. Villanova – Mary over her son’s followers.

SWEET SIXTEEN
Kansas vs. Maryland – No Hillel can beat God.
Tennessee vs. OSU – The Pearls cruise.
Syracuse vs. Vanderbilt – Syracuse has Assistant Coach Bernie Fine. Winner!
Pittsburgh vs. Florida – How can Pittsburgh overcome thousands of Jewish bubbes?
Kentucky vs. Cornell – I want to pick Cornell but when Calipari left Memphis it allowed Josh Pastner (Jewish) to move into his coaching spot. So, for Calapari’s act of chesed the Wildcats move into the Elite Eight.
Washington vs. UWV – Marshall “Biggie” Goldberg played fullback for the Steelers, but he was born and raised in UWV (and makes this bracket not totally weird).
Duke vs. Texas A&M – Scheyer keeps them moving.
Baylor vs. St. Mary’s – Lets face it, not too many Jews at St. Mary’s.

ELITE EIGHT
Kansas vs. Tennessee – Finally, I can stop picking Kansas. Tennessee’s Jew power overcomes Kansas.
Syracuse vs. Florida – Coach Fine and benchwarmer Reese carry the Orange into the Final Four.
Kentucky vs. UWV – Calipari’s help makes me want to keep him going.
Duke vs. Baylor – Scheyer is the best Jewish player in this tournament. Period.

FINAL FOUR
Tennessee vs. Syracuse – Both teams have a Jewish player and coach, but Tennessee’s are better.
Kentucky vs. Duke – Jon Scheyer takes the Dukies to the Finals.

CHAMPIONSHIP
Duke vs. Tennessee – Jon Scheyer wins it all.

For more Jewish sports visit www.TheGreatRabbino.com.
And Let Us Say...Amen.

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