Don: With a bracket called the Mideast, you’d expect some pretty fierce matchups, but the committee must have had a history teacher at the helm to steer these teams into the same region.
Bill: You said it, Don. When it’s tournament-time, you need momentum coming in, and if you look at Greece, Egypt, Iran, and Italy, you’d have to argue they all peaked about 2,000 years too soon.
Don: Still, traditional rivalries should boost the ratings.
Bill: I do like Italy v. Egypt in a 7-10 matchup. That just shouts Caesar v. Cleopatra. And how about a potential Egypt v. Israel contest in round two? That could be a blowout.
Don: Egypt certainly can’t afford to have another bad shooting night. But for my money, the round-one matchup between Greece and Turkey promises to be the most emotional, with the winner getting not only regional bragging rights, but Cyprus.
Bill: That’s right, Don. Elsewhere, what about the 8-seed, Peru? They’re crafty.
Don: That’s true, Bill, but handmade baskets and colourful little finger puppets won’t help them against Iran, where the coach is always under the gun.
Bill: How about Russia? Pretty controversial pick.
Don: I’m not the only one who doesn’t think they deserve a one-seed. Yes, they’ve got nuclear weapons – or at least parts of them – but they’ve suffered through a horrendous late 20th Century slide, having trouble with even small nations, such as Afghanistan and Chechnya. That’s why I like Ukraine. They kept most of the old Soviet Navy.
Bill: Wouldn’t that be a reason not to pick ‘em?
Don: Ha ha. And what about that 8 v. 9 matchup. Libya and “Air” Jordan?
Bill: Does Jordan even have an air force?
Don: I have no idea, but I’ve been waiting to say “Air Jordan” since the pairings were announced.
Bill: And finally, can you say enough about 11th-seeded Serbia?
Don: Not without getting shot.
Mideast Region Prediction: Ukraine