Bill: The West is the only region with 15 teams, and the only bracket where the top seed gets a bye. I understand that’s a pretty complicated process, Don. Perhaps you could explain to the folks out there exactly how the U.N. selection committee allowed just one country, the United States, to automatically advance to the second round.
Don: Well, America gives the U.N. the most money, Bill.
Bill: Right you are. And as I look at the West, if the U.S. doesn’t get to the Final Four, it will be a major upset. The Americans drew one of the weaker brackets. Just luck, Don?
Don: America gives the U.N. the most money, Bill.
Bill: That may also explain why this bracket is stacked with historical U.S. adversaries. Serious redemption time. Vietnam, North Korea, Somalia. Everyone but Iraq and Microsoft.
Don: Right, they’re in the South regional.
Bill: Let’s look at the 2-seed, Great Britain. Some potential dream matchups for them, starting with a first-round showdown between England and Ireland. That could be a classic. The young Celtic Tiger takes on the… the…
Don:… the old Anglo Queen, Bill. And no way, this won’t even be close.
Bill: What, England in a walk? Revenge for 1988?
Don: On the contrary. The contest is scheduled for the morning after St. Patrick’s Day.
Bill: Ouch. That’s unfair.
Don: Right. Nobody wants to fight an Irishman with a hangover.
Bill: But if Great Britain do manage to squeeze into the Sweet 16, we could have a rematch of the Falklands War with Argentina. Wowzer, wouldn’t the Argentines love that?
Don: Given the state of things down there, no, I don’t think they would, Bill.
Bill: How does the rest of the region look?
Don: Well, the Latin American conference have six representatives in this region, but they change managers so often, there’s no guarantee they’ll know who they’re fighting for. It’s very possible Colombia, if it upsets Sweden in the opener, will beat itself before taking on the winner of North Korea-Somalia.
Bill: North Korea, now there’s an interesting team. According to their press guide, their player-coach, Kim Jong Il, is 32 meters tall and can defeat the armies of capitalist hegemony with a single breath.
Don: Well, that kimchi is pretty strong stuff, and don’t forget they play a demilitarized zone. Plus they screen out well.
Bill: Hell, they screen out everything! But realistically, I don’t see them getting past the U.S. in the Sweet 16. And if things go according to plan, Great Britain will face America in the Elite Eight. Prediction on that one, Don?
Don: I imagine the Yanks will stick with what works. Before the match, they’ll tell the Brits that they are either with the Americans or against them. If history is any indicator, Coach Blair will simply fall in line.
West Region Prediction: United States.