'Walking Dead' to decide NCAA champ

April, 3, 2013
4/03/13
9:21
AM ET
If you’re like 98.9 percent of Americans, your NCAA tournament bracket now is most useful as a place to wrap up your used gum. Looking to at least redeem yourself among your friends with accurate Final Four predictions? We turned to the only source worthy of helping make such bold life decisions -- cable television.

Hours after Louisville punched the final ticket to Atlanta on Sunday, AMC aired the season finale of its massive hit "The Walking Dead." And as it turns out, the episode gave us some clues about what to expect in the Final Four. What exactly do zombies have to do with college basketball? Not much in actuality, but we like to read into things. With three of these teams fated to lose, they essentially march to Georgia as future zombies.

Comparing each team to a character on the show, here are our predictions for this weekend.

Spoiler alert: Major plot developments from the season finale are revealed below. Read at your own risk.


School: Syracuse
Character: The Governor


Widely disliked, known for less-than-ethical tactics, feared by many, ruthless.

[+] EnlargeDavid Morrissey
Chelsea Lauren/WireImage/Getty ImagesDoes this guy remind you of Jim Boeheim?
And the same could be said for the Governor.

Quite frankly, if you gave Coach Jim Boeheim an eye patch, he basically would be the Governor. Although his sarcastic glare after a mistake by one of his players might be even more frightening than the Gov’s most ominous whistling.

The “Walking Dead” season ends with uncertainty for the Governor. After massacring his own troops, he drives away into the abyss as we viewers are left with countless questions. With a looming NCAA investigation amid swirling allegations and an impending move to the ACC, Syracuse’s fate remains equally unknown once its postseason run ends. OK, maybe we’re being a little dramatic, but we do have some questions about the Orange’s future.

The Governor is the toughest of the tough. He didn’t nickname himself the Governor for nothing after all! He founded a town and kept a group of na´ve (READ: these people really have no idea their leader has fish tanks full of human heads?) people safe while combating walkers and gunning down innocent people who may have blinked incorrectly. Although the television show doesn’t show us life outside of Georgia, presumably because of the tax breaks provided by the state for filming there, we have to think the Governor is one of the most ruthless and feared living people remaining. The Governor loses this round, but we’re sure he’ll be back next year ready to take on the world -- or at least those at the prison.

Although Boeheim has kept his attacks to those of a verbal nature, he and his team have shown for years they are not be messed with. The program is perennially one of the best in the country, and Boeheim is feared by players, opposing teams, members of the media and small children alike. If the Governor’s fate is any indication (and we’re telling you it is), Boeheim and the Orange won’t emerge victorious in the final battle this time around but will be back in the near future.

Will the Governor return to fight Rick and the gang? Will Syracuse face major sanctions from the NCAA? Is the Governor actually driving to Indianapolis to talk to the NCAA himself? Are the NCAA officials actually just zombies confusing punishments and bans with living flesh? We’ll have to wait until next season to find out.

School: Michigan
Character: Andrea


It’s been a strange few years for Andrea, filled with a range of emotions from happy to suicidal. Much like what we would imagine the past two decades have been like for Wolverines fans.

Once a promising civil rights attorney, Andrea didn’t adjust well to the zombie-filled world. We’ll rephrase, Andrea had a harder time than just about everyone adjusting to a zombie-filled world. Although we’re guessing it wasn’t an easy transition for anyone but Michonne.

Once nationally beloved during the Fab Five era, Michigan has seen a decline in popularity over the years. Andrea, while never a fan favorite, has become hated by the "WD" faithful this past season.

Before her death, Andrea had started to redeem her past history of really awful mistakes, particularly in the romance department. To recap, her last two relationships involved a delusional former cop who was still obsessed with his best friend’s wife and a psychopathic one-eyed man with power issues and a thirst for violence. We know it’s the apocalypse and all but we think those two really aren’t even fit for the "last men on earth" thing.

Michigan, advancing to its first Final Four since 1993, is experiencing a resurgence both on and off the court as its once-dominant fan base seems to continue to return one win at a time.

The Wolverines' postseason success has delighted fans just as Andrea finally seeing the Governor for who he is did. We just hope Michigan’s inevitable loss to Syracuse is less painful than dying while being handcuffed to a torture chair and being eaten by a friend-turned-zombie.

School: Wichita State
Character: Milton


[+] EnlargeDemetric Williams
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesWith few expectations this season, like Milton, Wichita State has stood up to the big boys.
Both Milton and Wichita State started their respective seasons with little fanfare and low expectations. Despite surviving way longer than most would have predicted, both won’t make it to the finish line but have proved themselves to be worthy challengers along the way.

Milton, Woodbury’s resident science nerd, never appeared to be much of a fighter. He cowered at the sight of walkers and seemed to be the least likely of all the characters to have much of an impact on the fate of other survivors. After finally taking a stand against the evil Governor (by burning the walker pit, natch), Milton was forced to kill Andrea to prove his loyalty. He refused to do so, instead turning on his old friend, the Governor. He was unsuccessful and instead was brutally stabbed and left to die. As he slowly perished, he tried to help save Andrea by prolonging his inevitable turn into a walker and giving her time to release herself using the pliers he left out for her. She, being Andrea, couldn’t figure out those pesky pliers and was ultimately bit by the (particularly creepy) walker Milton. But Milton’s multiple efforts to stop the Governor, save Andrea and his fight to stay alive as long as possible allowed him to have the hero’s goodbye that virtually no one would have expected.

Wichita State was picked to make the Final Four in a whopping 0.24 percent of ESPN’s brackets. Underdog would be an understatement. However, the Shockers, um, shocked the nation with a wins over top-seeded Gonzaga and second-seeded Ohio State to advance to Atlanta. Much like geeky Milton looking completely out of place among those fighting zombies early in the season, Wichita State’s tournament future once looked uncertain during MVC play when they were defeated by Evansville twice and experienced a three-game losing streak. No one expected too much from Wichita State or Milton.

Although neither will survive until the end (of the tournament or of the post-apocalyptic world, whatever that may mean), both the Shockers and Milton were clearly made of much more than met the eye. Whether from a mid-major conference or a sheltered town in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, it was hard to expect much, yet both went out swinging.

School: Louisville
Character: Rick


Leader of the band of survivors, Rick has overcome so much -- a coma in a zombie-overrun hospital, wandering the streets having emerged from said coma with no weapons or knowledge of the dead corpses walking around, an attempted murder by his best friend, the death of his wife in childbirth, seeing his dead wife in delusions, etc. Yet he still seems inexplicably invincible. Perhaps that’s what top billing will get you. Even when a walker is just inches away from biting his head off, there’s always someone behind with a bow and arrow to help the former sheriff escape. In the closest of moments, the viewer always knows he’ll find a way to survive. Just like Louisville!

After a successful regular season and a Big East title, it’s been the Cardinals’ tournament to win since the bracket was set. The top overall seed, Rick Pitino’s squad has rolled past its Big Dance opponents.

Rick has seen some untimely demises of those he cares about. The Cardinals haven’t, fortunately, but they did see Kevin Ware’s gruesome protruding broken leg that looked like it came straight from the "Walking Dead" prop department.

As Rick barely flinched at a Governor-led attack on the prison, his son becoming a sociopath or discovering the Governor’s men all murdered on the side of the highway, we knew he would survive even if the futures of those around him weren’t so certain. The Cardinals, no matter how fierce the opponent they face, will get their Ricktatorship on and find a way to win and survive.

Granted, if Russ Smith had to deal with Carl’s moody antics every day, we’re not so sure he would be so successful. Put the gun down, kid, and do whatever homework you have left from before the world went to hell.

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