From the president to your grandmother, it seems like everyone's been swept up in March Madness. And that includes everyone at CultureMap — even our pets.
With the death of Paul the Octopus, who correctly predicted the outcome of all seven of Germany's matches as well as Spain's eventual victory in the 2010 World Cup, there's been a dearth of psychic animals making waves. And with a cross-eyed German opossum as our only competition, we at CultureMap figure that surely one of our pets has the moxie and the extra-sensory perception to be a big winner.
So we gathered four critters from across the animal spectrum and assigned them each one quadrant of the NCAA college basketball bracket to predict who'd be making the trip to Houston in April for the Final Four. Who's got the most psychic ability (or sports knowledge)? Can your bracket beat theirs? Check it out below to see the contenders.
East Regional: Sushi the Beta Fish picks Syracuse
A fixture for months in the CultureMap office, Sushi is an avid swimmer and an acolyte of Eastern religious thought. He's known for his devotion of water meditation, remaining completely still in an effort to align his chakras and achieve a lasting Zen state.
Sushi is skilled in the art of mind over matter, staring in the direction of senior account manager Marielle Johnson Sokolowski until she feeds him.
By swimming towards one of two pieces of paper, Sushi stayed true to the bracket formula: A couple upsets in the early rounds, like Clemson* over West Virginia and Marquette topping Xavier followed by high-seeded dominance.
Sushi had a tough time choosing between Kentucky and Ohio State in the third round, signaling perhaps a tough fight, and enthusiastically supported Syracuse, predicting dominant victories for the Orange over Marquette, North Carolina (expect a blow-out) and finally over Ohio State to advance the three-seed to the final four.
West Regional: Zoë the Dog selects Arizona
A three-year-old with a lot of energy and a lot of heart, Zoë would have been a cheerleader in another life if only for the attention (and the gossip). With her stumpy legs, big tummy, boy-crazy behavior and fondness for wine coolers, Zoë's been compared to Snooki, except much, much smarter.
Zoë's first round choices were 100 percent chalk, with Duke, UConn and Temple as early favorites. Cincinnati got strong support for a trip to the Elite Eight, and in a difficult choice Zoë predicted Arizona to knock out top-seed Duke in the sweet sixteen before advancing to the Final Four.
Southeast Regional: Corfu the Cat chooses underdog Belmont
The bad boy of our psychic animals, Corfu has been called "a bit of an asshole," but that's only by people who don't understand him. When he's not listening to Of Montreal or reading The Economist, eight-year-old Corfu is just waiting for something to happen so he can roll his eyes and meow, "I told you so." We mostly put him in this contest so he'd be forced to put his money where his sandpaper tongue is.
Corfu's choices were appropriately iconoclastic. Though he picked an easy victory for Pitt in the first two rounds, Corfu called tight games putting Michigan State over UCLA, Belmont over Wisconsin and later Gonzaga over Brigham Young. But it was lucky number 13 that held the cat's attention, sending Belmont to the Final Four over Michigan. This might be an ironic statement, but with Corfu we can never really tell.
Southwest Regional: Patch the Pig roots for Kansas
To complete our interspecies face-off we headed to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, where Samantha Taylor Stephens of Marion, Tex., let us recruit her pig Patch for our efforts. Despite a life in rodeo show business, Patch was sweet and down to earth, never putting on diva airs and often consulting with pigs in neighboring pens before making a final decision.
However when choosing between teams, apparently his macrobiotic diet required him to go for the paper rather than the treat sitting on top of it. Live a little, Patch. Treat yourself.
It looks like Patch's philosophy was a solid one, since he was the only psychic animal to pick a number one seed — Kansas — for the Final Four. Patch predicts a Cinderella run by either USC or VCU* with the team advancing to the elite eight. Other calls? A tough opening game for Notre Dame before losing in the sweet 16, and first round upsets by Richmond, Morehead, and Florida State (sorry, A&M fans).
Which species will be the bracket champion? Can our psychic animals make it to the big time? Only time will tell. Who are you rooting for?
*We assumed animals knew which play-in teams they were picking to even out the competition between regions.