People, it is here! The NCAA Tournament begins tonight at 5:40--give or take--as Western Kentucky University battles Mississippi Valley State for the right play Kentucky on Thursday in Louisville. President Obama's even gonna be there! Me, I'm gonna be right here...in Bracketboro. Driving through town recently, I noticed several street signs that reminded me of that series of Nike commercials a decade ago about the town of Bracketville. There were quite a few of them and they always ran during the tournament. So, thanks to that inspiration, Owensboro is now Bracketboro.

I guess I never realized how many streets in Owensboro--I mean Bracketboro--are named after or share their names with universities--and universities that are playing in the NCAA Tournament. So, with one exception, I'll predict how far each of these Bracketboro teams will go.

KENTUCKY

Here's the one exception. Could be bad luck to predict the 'Cats all the way to the title. So let's just say I have them making the Final Four, at least, and leave it at that.

DUKE

Boy, would I love to see a Duke/Kentucky Regional Final. Especially on the 20th anniversary of what many consider to be the best college basketball game ever played--especially if you're a Duke fan.

But, here's the thing: I just don't see this defensively-challenged Duke team getting that far. I think they'll handily take care of their first two opponents before running into long and athletic Baylor, at which point the Blue Devils will bow out.

BAYLOR

Ah, Baylor. Here's a weird team, if you ask me. One of the nation's most talented outfits, they up and lost 7 games this season. Now, here's the weird part--five of those losses were just to two teams, Missouri and Kansas. Because of the Bears' erratic play throughout the last couple of months, many pundits aren't predicting a very long tournament life. I disagree.

I think this is a very good team that just needs to quit playing conference opponents. And they won't have that opportunity in their region. Baylor makes it rather easily to the Elite Eight and then loses a tight one to Kentucky.

ST. MARY'S

Introductions, first. Casual college hoops fans may not even know who these guys are. St. Mary's College is located in Moraga, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Gaels--yes, the Gaels--made the Sweet Sixteen a couple of years ago. This year, I don't see that happening. But, I don't see them heading back to Cali empty-handed, either.

Much as I'd love to believe Purdue will take care St. Mary's in round one, I just don't see it. The Boilermakers--super senior Robbie Hummel, notwithstanding--just aren't deep enough, talent-wise, to keep up with all of St. Mary's speedy Australian imports. Purdue, I'm afraid, will be one and done.

BELMONT

Oh, this so tempting. Belmont, by the way, is the music business school located in Nashville. But they have a pretty darn good basketball program, too. The Bruins have made five of the last seven NCAA tournaments and have come TTHHHHIIISSSSSSS close to winning on three occasions.

They are loaded with seniors with tournament experience and are facing a Georgetown team that has been eliminated each of the past two years by much lower seeded teams. I came very close to predicting a major upset here--Belmont is a 14-seed, Georgetown is a 3--but I figured Georgetown has had enough of that early exit nonsense and will turn it on enough to keep the Belmont Bruins at bay.

Enjoy the games! They begin tonight! And, remember, for the next three weeks, this is Bracketboro.