A star-studded formula to a winning bracket   

Updated: March 17, 2008, 7:09 PM ET

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Star power is a wonderful indicator of a school's clout.

Just like the rest of us, the best basketball players want to go to school where the cool kids went to school. Face it, too much knowledge can be a bad thing in an NCAA pool. That's why the receptionist in accounts payable is the three-time defending champ.


Sometimes it just boils down to this: Courtney Love (Portland State) vs. Don Johnson (Kansas) and Geraldo Rivera (Arizona) vs. Kenneth Starr (Duke).

It's this kind of insight that will have you celebrating on April 7.

You're welcome.


On Friday, we promised to help you win your NCAA pool. Here are our nine foolproof methods.
The 10th -- straight chalk -- will be figured into the Page 2 group bracket as a control variable.
Stay tuned to Page 2 throughout the NCAA tournament to see how our brackets stack up.

Best unis
Our uniform expert breaks down attire aesthetics.
Uni bracket
Mascot fight
Which school has the most intimidating mascot?
Mascot bracket
Celeb alums
Which school has the most star power?
Celeb bracket
Inverse graduation rate
Which program graduates the fewest players?
Grad rate bracket
Coach appearance
Which coach is best-dressed for success?
Dapper coach bracket
Collegiate beers
If each school was a beer, which one would you drink?
Beer bracket
Cred, creed
Who has the right mix of street cred and religious clout?
Cred and creed bracket
Cheesy slogan
School slogans can say a lot. Who has the best one?
Slogan bracket
Non-hoops jocks
Which school produces the most successful non-basketball athletes?
Non-hoops jocks bracket

Celebrity bracket ground rules:

• Overall star power decides the winner of all 64 matchups.

• Pro athletes don't count.

• Grad school doesn't count. Otherwise, Neil Armstrong could suit up for both Purdue (undergrad) and USC (grad).

• One school per customer based on where the celeb spent the most time, which means that Cornell -- not Butler or Tennessee -- can claim Kurt Vonnegut.

• Dropouts do count, unless they went on to graduate elsewhere. Honorary degrees most certainly do not count.

• The deceased count.

• Only high-ranking politicians -- read: presidents and tenured senators -- count. Everybody churns out mayors, state senators and congressmen.

• Wonderfully cheesy celebs, such as Robert Romanus, who played Damone in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (Xavier), and Willard Scott (American) add to a school's rating.

• Dubious celebs, such as Jim Jones (Butler) and Ted Haggard (Oral Roberts) detract from a school's rating.

Easiest region (to pick): East. A lot of chalk here, as President James K. Polk carries the Tar Heels into the Final Four.

Toughest region (to pick): West. In 15 games, seven lower seeds advance.

Easiest pick (single game): Pretty much any small, public, directional school going up against a wealthy private juggernaut.

Toughest pick (single game): Second round, South Region between No. 2 Texas and No. 7 Miami. The Hurricanes bring a full-court press with the likes of Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Ray Liotta, Grace Slick and Sylvester Stallone, but it isn't enough to topple Texas (details below).

Biggest upset (in entire bracket): By the seeds, it would be No. 14 Georgia over No. 3 Xavier. But by celeb standards, it would be Western Kentucky over UConn. The Hilltoppers can claim John Carpenter, Romeo Crennel, Duncan Hines and the Nappy Roots. UConn counters with Meg Ryan and Moby.

First-round flop: In the Midwest Region, No. 5 Clemson loses to No. 12 Villanova. Jim Croce trumps Strom Thurmond. Perhaps a bad call down the stretch will help the Wildcats, much to the delight of Nova alum Tim Donaghy.

Sleeper school: Kent State. The Golden Flashes benefit mightily from the dropout rule. Check out their murderers row of celebrity dropouts: Drew Carey, Chrissie Hynde, Michael Keaton, David Sedaris and Joe Walsh.

Final Four shocker: Texas over UCLA and USC. Both matchups are virtual dead heats. Check out the starting fives:

Texas: Michael Dell, Farrah Fawcett, David Geffen, Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger.

UCLA: Lloyd Bridges, James Dean, Heather Locklear, Rob Reiner and Gabrielle Union.

USC: Herb Alpert, Will Ferrell, George Lucas, Tom Selleck and John Wayne.

The Longhorns get the nod with Walter Cronkite playing the role of sixth man.

Buy stock in: Georgia. Sure, the Dawgs are white hot after four wins in three days to capture the SEC tournament title. More importantly, they count Kim Basinger, Deborah Norville, Wayne Knight (Newman from "Seinfeld") and all the members of R.E.M. among their alumni.

Sell stock in: Connecticut. UConn boasts plenty of NBA alumni. But Meg Ryan and Moby will get you only so far in the celebrity bracket.

Obvious pick we still like anyway: UCLA. Not only do you get Dean and Locklear, but also gritty role players such as George Takei and Judge Joe Brown.

Random notes
• Andy Griffith (North Carolina) and Don Knotts (West Virginia) are both represented.

• Cincinnati didn't make the Big Dance, but two alums of "WKRP in Cincinnati" did: Howard Hesseman (Oregon) and Gordon Jump (Kansas State).

• "Cheers" to the 2008 NCAA tourney. Ted Danson went to Stanford. George Wendt bombed out at Notre Dame. Kirstie Alley attended both Kansas and Kansas State, although neither for very long. John Ratzenberger just missed the dance when his alma mater, Sacred Heart, lost in the NEC tournament final.

A sampling of notable celebs in this year's dance: Paul Allen (Washington State), Bill Clinton (Georgetown), Kevin Costner (Cal State Fullerton), Bing Crosby (Gonzaga), Chris Farley (Marquette), Jared Fogle (Indiana), James Garner (Oklahoma), Kathie Lee Gifford (Oral Roberts), Chris Hansen (Michigan State), Jon Heder (BYU), Ashley Judd (Kentucky), Suge Knight (UNLV), Huey Lewis (Cornell), Lyle Lovett (Texas A&M), Andie MacDowell (Winthrop), Wink Martindale (Memphis), Steve Miller (Wisconsin), Willie Nelson (Baylor), Lou Diamond Phillips (Texas-Arlington), Molly Sims (Vanderbilt), Kathleen Turner (Maryland-Baltimore County) and Reese Witherspoon (Stanford).


First Round
1 North Carolina def. 16 Coppin State
8 Indiana def. 9 Arkansas
5 Notre Dame def. 12 George Mason
4 Washington State def. 13 Winthrop
6 Oklahoma def. 11 Saint Joseph's
3 Louisville def. 14 Boise State
7 Butler def. 10 South Alabama
2 Tennessee def. 15 American

Second Round
1 North Carolina def. 8 Indiana
5 Notre Dame def. 4 Washington State
6 Oklahoma def. 3 Louisville
2 Tennessee def. 7 Butler

Round of 16
1 North Carolina def. 5 Notre Dame
2 Tennessee def. 6 Oklahoma

Regional Final
1 North Carolina def. 2 Tennessee


First Round
1 Kansas def. 16 Portland State
9 Kent State def. 8 UNLV
12 Villanova def. 5 Clemson
4 Vanderbilt def. 13 Siena
6 USC def. 11 Kansas State
3 Wisconsin def. 14 Cal State Fullerton
7 Gonzaga def. 10 Davidson
2 Georgetown def. 15 UMBC

Second Round
1 Kansas def. 9 Kent State
4 Vanderbilt def. 12 Villanova
6 USC def. 3 Wisconsin

2 Georgetown def. 7 Gonzaga

Round of 16
1 Kansas def. 4 Vanderbilt
6 USC def. 2 Georgetown

Regional Final
6 USC def. 1 Kansas


First Round
1 Memphis def. 16 Texas-Arlington
9 Oregon def. 8 Mississippi State
5 Michigan State def. 12 Temple
4 Pittsburgh def. 13 Oral Roberts
11 Kentucky def. 6 Marquette
3 Stanford def. 14 Cornell
7 Miami (Fla.) def. 10 Saint Mary's
2 Texas def. 15 Austin Peay

Second Round
9 Oregon def. 1 Memphis
5 Michigan State def. 4 Pittsburgh
3 Stanford def. 11 Kentucky
2 Texas def. 7 Miami (Fla.)

Round of 16
9 Oregon def. 5 Michigan State
2 Texas def. 3 Stanford

Regional Final
2 Texas def. 9 Oregon


First Round
1 UCLA def. 16 Mississippi Valley State
8 BYU def. 9 Texas A&M
12 Western Kentucky def. 5 Drake
4 Connecticut def. 13 San Diego
11 Baylor def. 6 Purdue
14 Georgia def. 3 Xavier
10 Arizona def. 7 West Virginia
2 Duke def. 15 Belmont

Second Round
1 UCLA def. 8 BYU
12 Western Kentucky def. 4 Connecticut
14 Georgia def. 11 Baylor
10 Arizona def. 2 Duke

Round of 16
1 UCLA def. 12 Western Kentucky
10 Arizona def. 14 Georgia

Regional Final
1 UCLA def. 10 Arizona

6 USC def. 1 North Carolina
2 Texas def. 1 UCLA

CHAMPIONSHIP: 2 Texas def. 6 USC



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