Power Rankings: Sweet 16 edition

Originally Published: March 22, 2010
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

You've come for another checkup with the Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: A human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Gregory Hardy; and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, the computer we tapped had no idea how to convert sports and pop culture headlines into prescriptions for the new Universal Joke-Writing Care formulas. And lamentably, not having a sense of humor is always considered a pre-existing condition. To the results!

1. Northern Iowa

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.9 9.1 19.0

Credentials: Before March Madness started, we couldn't locate Northern Iowa with 10 GPS devices -- let alone find it in multiple spots on our bracket. Now, it's No. 1 overall seed Kansas that's written off the map. But that's what happened Saturday night for the ninth-seeded Panthers, faster than you could say "Ali Farokhmanesh." Forget about the eternal struggle of respect between mid-majors and the big boys: Our first New Year's resolution for 2011 is to pencil in one compass-point school to at least the Elite Eight from now on.

2. Televised Tiger Woods

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.0 8.9 17.9

Credentials: Here's actually the No. 1 unanswered question we have following the all-too-brief "Five Good Minutes" Q&A stints: If Cosmo Kramer can write a coffee-table book about coffee tables, will it be acceptable for golf reporters to write Tiger columns about Tiger's columns? What does it say about Woods' personality that those things in the background were the most vibrant visual of the segment? But that's how he's determined to be viewed anyway: rigid, vanilla, boring ... and capable of crushing a lot of people if you insist on trying to topple it.

3. Bracketology

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.6 8.4 17.0

Credentials: Hey, wait! Somebody stop that garbage truck! There's an NCAA Bracket Predicting Machine we threw in there after it tried to tell us the Final Four will be Butler, Saint Mary's, Cornell and Northern Iowa! We thought it was completely broken ... or at the very least, massively screwing with us! Please forgive us, NCAA Bracket Predicting Machine! Come back! NOOOO!!!!

4. Joe Mauer

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.1 8.2 16.3

Credentials: How good must it feel for Mauer to know that he'll be making $23 million a year for the next eight years playing in Minnesota? Some small part of him must realize he's definitely leaving money on the table by not testing the Yankees' and Red Sox's pocketbooks. The thing is, he's still probably feeling only half as good as every Twins fan must feel knowing that their guy isn't going to the gilded AL East.

5. Jesse James

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.7 7.7 14.4

Credentials: A man can be proud when his woman owns something that no one can take away. In James' case, his wife, Sandra Bullock, was awarded an Oscar. That fact will be in the history books forever. Similarly, there are women like Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, who owns a tattoo across her forehead. You think if none of this tabloid stuff ever happened James would have tried to talk Sandra into getting a picture of the Oscar tattooed onto her forehead? It's not like it would hurt her career, since makeup and/or CGI could erase it for future movie roles.

6. Mike Tyson vs. PETA

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.5 14.6

Credentials: The animal rights group is trying to stop Iron Mike's new Animal Planet reality show about pigeon racing, saying that it's cruel to the birds. Now it's up to the ex-champ's representatives to say, "Hey, get lost! Those pigeons already had face tattoos when we bought 'em at the pet store."

7. Chad Ochocinco

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.0 6.9 13.9

Credentials: The good news for the Bengals wideout is that there's no reason why he can't win "Dancing With The Stars." But win or lose, the bad news is that there will be no way to tap dance around angry fantasy football fans this fall if he fails to produce stats. It's one thing for retired NFL stars like Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice to two-step on the show -- but no matter how well Ochocinco learns how to flamenco, this is time he probably should be using to stay in football shape.

8. New Jersey Nets Countdown

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.8 6.5 13.3

Credentials: This is how a 7-62 record can warp a brain: Because the Nets must win three out of their final 13 games to avoid the "worst NBA team of all time" crown, players are treating this closing stretch with postseason intensity. Jarvis Hayes told reporters after practice Sunday: "We actually look at it like this is our playoffs. Every night we are getting teams' best shot because they don't want to be the team that loses to us." Uh, reality alert: In the history of organized sports, no one has ever set up a "best-of-13 series" where the champion is entitled to smoke a cigar after winning only three games. Or is that how New Jersey math works?

9. Connecticut Women

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.1 5.2 11.3

Credentials: You might look at that 73-game win streak and think there's no stopping the Huskies. Well, what about this: It's practically a gimme that they'll advance past Temple to get to the Dayton Regional. But what if you could hack into their flight itinerary and change all their plane tickets to "Daytona" at the last minute? The Huskies can win NCAA games 95-39, but there's no way they can get from Florida to Ohio in time when they figure out a half-hour before tip-off that they're in the wrong state.

10. Welcome to Googleville

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.6 5.1 10.7

Credentials: Want Google to come to your town to install a new fiber-optic broadband Internet service that's 100 times faster than snot? Then you and your friends need to come up with a gimmick that will embarrass yourselves a million times more than what passes for usual in your neck of the woods. In the past few weeks, countless folks have generated corny YouTube videos and Facebook pages to rally the message. One town even renamed itself Google, USA. Just please don't get the Google logo tattooed on your forehead. That will never work unless Jesse James becomes its CEO.

11. Bud Selig's Realignment Daydream

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.4 5.2 10.6

Credentials: The baseball commissioner confessed that on "long airport rides" he might scribble down realignment ideas on a piece of paper. Wonder if the piece of paper that inspires these exercises ever happens to list the Kansas City Royals' annual revenues.

12. The National Invitational Tournament

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.8 4.4 9.2

Credentials: Two predictions: (1) The final four in New York City will be North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia Tech and Illinois; and (2) It will be the most interesting basketball in Madison Square Garden between now and the end of April.

13. MLS Player Strike Averted

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.5 2.8 6.3

Credentials: Fortunately, negotiations were successful and the MLS season will kick off on time. Unfortunately, the players signed the deal while overlooking one crucial piece of fine print: They're not allowed to touch any of their new money with their hands.

Also receiving votes:
• Ozzie Guillen's son: Now that he's unemployed from the White Sox, someone check his Twitter feed to see if he wrote, "Thanks, Dad."

• "Diary of a Wimpy Kid": No, this is not a documentary about Tim Tebow's quixotic attempt to fix his throwing motion.

Never receiving votes:
• "The Bounty Hunter": No wonder this movie was getting ripped by critics (9 percent RottenTomato meter = Ouch!). The plot is that someone has to be paid to track down Jennifer Aniston? Most guys would do that for free seven days a week.

• 2010 Census Forms: Remember to fill these things out and return them quickly! You don't want your hometown to be a bottom seed in the government's next "city elimination" bracket.

• Iditarod: This year's race is in the books, but you never know: If PETA wins its pigeon fight against Mike Tyson, he might try to ride the sleds next year when they pull around.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at

Back to Page 2

• Philbrick: Page 2's Greatest Hits, 2000-2012
• Caple: Fond memories of a road warrior
• Snibbe: An illustrated history of Page 2
Philbrick, Gallo: Farewell podcast Listen

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at