November 18, 2017 / 8:24 PM

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Picking The Final Four and NCAA Championship by Music Alumni: Will Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin or Michigan State Win Out?

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Music Times is giving our guaranteed winners for this weekend's upcoming Final Four and NCAA Basketball Championship games. Earlier during 2015 we made an attempt to predict the first ever College Football Playoff based entirely upon the musical alumni of the universities involved. It didn't entirely work, but it didn't entirely fail: We accurately chose Ohio State to upset Alabama during the first round, but then again we also chose Florida State to win it all (and they were flattened by Oregon in the first round).

So let's see what we can get from the University of Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Duke University. Who will take home the Naismith Trophy?

FINAL FOUR

No. 1 University of Kentucky vs. No. 1 University of Wisconsin

Every round of the SEC Tournament and now the NCAA Tournament has invited questions from commentators on whether fill-in-the-blank could potentially beat the University of Kentucky...the undefeated, and potentially best basketball team in college history. No. 5 seed West Virginia thought it had a chance, and then the Wildcats doubled their score. Then Notre Dame nearly took the superpower down, losing the lead for the last time with only six seconds left in the game. That has many thinking that the University of Wisconsin, another no. 1 seed, might be the team to finally derail the big blue train, being one of the few teams in the country that can match up size-wise. So how about musically? The Badgers opt to bring out the alternative rock guns out first, sending the acclaimed Zola Jesus into play, but the Wildcats have an answer, showing alum and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche. First half goes to UK but...they don't have much modern music to keep up the pace during the second half. Wisconsin has barely gotten started however: The second period of the game features Butch Vig, the drummer for Garbage and better known as the producer behind classics such as Nirvana's Nevermind, the Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream and Sonic Youth's Dirty. Kentucky can't draw from its home state's rich bluegrass history, as most of those performers never went to college and indeed, Wisconsin pulls off the basketball upset.

 

No. 1 Duke University vs No. 7 Michigan State University

Michigan State University might be the least surprising no. 7 to make it to the Final Four. Part of that is Connecticut's national championship win from the no. 7 position, part of it was the run to the Big Ten conference championship, falling to the aforementioned University of Wisconsin. The final part is head coach Tom Izzo, who comes out ahead when the going gets tough. He may only have one National Championship to his name but he also has eight total trips to the Final Four. There's something to be said for a good coach, and Izzo isn't the only one in Michigan State history. One of the best coaches to come out of music also spent at Michigan State. Dorothy DeLay may have gotten her degree as a Spartan, but she rose to prominence as a violin instructor at Juilliard in New York, teaching the craft to iconic players such as Midori Goto, Sarah Chang and, oh yeah, Itzhak Perlman. We may not know as much about classical music but anytime you say "Itzhak Perlman," we pay attention. Duke has great coaches of its own of course: Mike Krzyzewski has four national championships and a dozen Final Four trips, while Kara DioGuardi has had more than 300 tracks released on major labels. Coaching aside, a winning team needs talent as well. Duke's talent pool only goes as far as Mike Posner, while the Spartans have Noel "Paul" Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary) and jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. The latter didn't actually graduate from State, but most NBA players don't either. Michigan State beats the Blue Devils in a tight game.

No. 1 Wisconsin vs No. 7 Michigan State University

By some strange less-than-coincidence, the two teams that met during the Big Ten Championship Game will meet again for the National Championship in Indianapolis, the heart of Big Ten country. Will the Spartans have enough gas left in the tank after the Duke game in order to reverse their fortunes from the previously mentioned championship game? Reserves is one thing that Wisconsin has covered in the music game. Although it may have brought out Vig during the Final Four Game, it still has one more classic pop act to use: Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs and of course the duo's joint project The Steve Miller Band. The bench goes even deeper when you consider the composers it's turned out: Jerry Bock, the Tony Award-winning composer behind Broadway classic Fiddler on The Roof, while Herbert Stothart won the Oscar for Best Original Score for his work on The Wizard of Oz. We figure Wisconsin will take home a Naismith Trophy to add to its Big Ten Championship.

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