Every 2019 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play golfer as a 2019 NCAA basketball tournament team
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Every 2019 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play golfer as a 2019 NCAA basketball tournament team



Behold, the brackets! We have come home to our roots, to celebrate sport in the best way we know how – by pitting 64 (okay, 68 in one) of the sports best against each other to determine, with absolutely no certainty, who is the best.

While the NCAA Selection Show thankfully simplified things into a show where the bracket was again the star, that same Sunday saw the 2019 golf season give us a glorious first course of elite events. It also set the final world golf rankings for access to the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play.

So, now, who is the Duke of golf? Which NCAA championship hopeful will seek out the haters as motivation like Brooks Koepka? Who is upset minded and letdown prone?

If you are new to this delusional exercise in sports mashup, it’s pretty simple: I love golf and college basketball, in some order. I also love brackets. In what has become an annual tradition, I liken each team in the NCAA tournament to its corresponding golf doppelganger participating in the Match Play.

Before we dive in, a couple of notes:

  • The schedule this year has Match Play a bit later, so I had to base it off OWGR qualifiers before the official field was set
  • In past years, I went in world ranking order, but decided to follow the NCAA regions for a more game-like feel this year. (Hey, if we can besmirch the bracket with silly pods, I can do what I want)
  • For a further discussion on certain assignments, come on by the latest episode of The Perfect Number Podcast for mindless banter about it

Without further ado, let’s start in the East region, where the top overall seed is…

East

1 vs. 16

No. 1 Duke is Rory McIlroy – This is rather simple. Each possesses the most deadly weapon in the field. Zion Williamson is Thor’s hammer, just like Rory’s driver. When on, each is unstoppable. We questioned Rory’s ability to close tournaments. We questioned Duke’s ability to win without Zion. Last weekend, we were shut up. Anything less than a title is a disappointment at this stage of the season.

No. 16 North Dakota State is Lee Westwood – [Disclaimer: This was written before the Wednesday night First Four games] Neither expected to be there, until the last minute. Neither is expected to stick around for a minute.

8 vs. 9

No. 8 VCU is Matthew Fitzpatrick – The darling of the dance when the brand was fresh, now we wonder if the hype train will return to the same levels of yesteryear.

No. 9 UCF is Kiradech Aphibarnrat – The Knights have a center named Tacko Fall. He is 7-foot-6. The Barn Rat is also a big man, although I am not sure if he loves tacos. That would be even better.

5 vs. 12

No. 5 Mississippi State is Paul Casey – Mired in a long slump, a commitment to success has brought both back to the top. The Bulldogs haven’t made the tournament in a decade, but giving Ben Howland time was a strong hire. Casey was outside the top 150 in the world six years ago but grinded, found happiness and perspective, and was rewarded with that win in Tampa a year ago.

No. 12 Liberty is Eddie Pepperell – Both can really preach.

4 vs. 13

No. 4 Virginia Tech is Bubba Watson – Misunderstood and not as clean cut as the peers down the road, you can’t knock the success however. A Buzz Williams sideline explosion is like watching Bubba’s right foot on the take away. Mesmerizing. Oh, and they are both a little hokie, no?

No. 13 Saint Louis is Justin Harding – The once mighty Atlantic-10 have just two teams in the tourney, and the Billikens late brilliance kept it from being just one team. Did you know there are only three South Africans ranked in the top 64 of the world. If not for Harding’s recent stellar play (Win, T2), there would be only two. TWO!

6 vs. 11

No. 6 Maryland is Hideki Matsuyama – All of the tools – Bruno Fernandez is Hideki’s SG:Approach, third best on Tour – with so many questions and doubts. A loss to 13th-seeded Nebraska to limp into the tournament is Maryland’s version of Hideki’s SG: Putting (175th).

No. 11 Temple is Adam Scott – Oh wait, Temple lost in the First Four? Cool, Adam Scott didn’t want to play anyways.

No. 11 Belmont is Matt Wallace – Don’t sleep on either. More proven than you know, off the radar a bit and hungry to make a name.

3 vs. 14

No. 3 LSU is Patrick Reed – A couple of bayou bluebloods with the proven talent to win the whole thing, but do we want them to? Will Wade is MIA as LSU’s coach because he was caught on a wire tap cheating. There is about as much comfort in Team Reed’s perception bubble as the Tigers’.

No. 14 Yale is Chez Reavie – Measured, sharp, smart and easy to root for, but with no chance of a deep run.

7 vs. 10

No. 7 Louisville is Jordan Spieth – A year ago, each was in complete free fall, mired in various levels of self-destruction. The fallout from Rick Pitino was as shocking as watching Jordan Spieth yank three-footers. Neither is back to their highest form, but are we more optimistic now? Jordan sure indicated as much last week, and Chris Mack was the perfect hire for the Cardinals.

No. 10 Minnesota is Kevin Kisner – A complete wild card. Could be one-and-done, or could make a second weekend run based on the results this year.

2 vs. 15

No. 2 Michigan State is Brooks Koepka – Motivation!!! There ya go, Brooks. Not even on the one line. Sparty won the Big Ten, in both ways this year. Koepka has won two of the last three majors. Not only do they not get the love they deserve, but they also get the same region as the top overall seed. Light the candle! Oh, and both will bludgeon you to death with power.

No. 15 Bradley is Kevin Na – Snuck into the field, but the talk will be more about Bradley’s media ban of a beat writer in the same way Na’s idiosyncrasies on the course distract from his play.

West

1 vs. 16

No. 1 Gonzaga is Bryson DeChambeau – Yes, we now believe it is real. The Zags run to a national title game in 2017 quieted national critics the same way Bryson’s playoff push last year validated his methods. But, let’s be honest, there are plenty of silent skeptics out there when it comes to winning the big one.

No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson is Jim Furyk – Given no shot to even be here and grinning ear to ear.

8 vs. 9

No. 8 Syracuse is Henrik Stenson – Relics? Are the glory years behind us?

No. 9 Baylor is Thorbjorn Olesen – Both Bears, one more thunderous than the other.

5 vs. 12

No. 5 Marquette is Tommy Fleetwood – Eagles! Fleetwood leads the PGA Tour in holes per eagle and is as diminutively impressive as Markus Howard is for Marquette. If only Tommy’s hair was golden.

No. 12 Murray State is Keith Mitchell – Perhaps seeded below their current talent level. Ja Morant will get as much run as Mitchell has gotten in the past month during his heater.

4 vs. 13

No. 4 Florida State is Tony Finau – Perennially long, athletic and super strong, but still lacking signature wins. Leonard Hamilton finally got to an Elite Eight last year, while Finau is still chasing that elite win.

No. 13 Vermont is Keegan Bradley – Only 92 miles from campus to Keegan’s hometown growing up. Oh, and this 13-seed could totally win this game.

6 vs. 11

No. 6 Buffalo is Alex Noren – These guys are sooooo 2018 in terms of brand hotness, although Buffalo is playing better this year, while Noren is, well, not.

No. 11 Arizona State/St. John’s is Haotong Li – Good enough to be here? Sure. Good enough win? Ehh. Good enough to watch? Jury’s out.

3 vs. 14

No. 3 Texas Tech is Xander Schauffele – Woefully underrated in terms of quality of wins and depth of recent resume. The X man has more top 3s than MCs since the US Open last year.

No. 14 Northern Kentucky is Lucas Bjerregaard – More veteran than you think for a team that transitioned from D2 this decade and a golfer who turned pro at 20 and is a seasoned 27 right now with wins each of his last two seasons.

7 vs. 10

No. 7 Nevada is Louis Oosthuizen – Probably overlooked given what was expected, but then could snap to life and win the whole thing.

No. 10 Florida is Billy Horschel – The seed line matches up school with alumnus perfectly. Gators for life!

2 vs. 15

No. 2 Michigan is Justin Thomas – Consistent winning. Different year, same results. It may not be the perfect run of greatness (see Michigan’s loss to State in the Big Ten tournament, or JT’s weak effort at The Players), but this has become the steady tech stock you got for cheaper than Apple a few years back and it never disappoints, rising steadily.

No. 15 Montana is Shane Lowry – Grizzled.

Halfway home, and God bless you for making it this far. Time to pivot to the South which is seemingly up for grabs.

South

1 vs. 16

No. 1 Virginia is Justin Rose – Steady and calculated, there are no real frills with either. Rose winning the FedEx Cup and becoming world number one was a better 2018 than Virginia’s epic loss to UMBC, but the Cavaliers seem to have more edges this season. Rose added new equipment to keep rising and already won. It would not be a shock for both to have a major win next month.

No. 16 Gardner-Webb is Aaron Wise – Maybe last year was the time to win from this slot, but it’s not looking promising in 2019.

8 vs. 9

No. 8 Mississippi is Brandt Snedeker – A new coach is all it took. Ole Miss returned the tournament under first-year head coach Kermit Davis. Sneds returned to Todd Anderson and has missed just one cut in 16 starts and looked sharp at TPC Sawgrass.

No. 9 Oklahoma is Rafa Cabrera Bello – The Sooners don’t have Trae Young, but may be better. Rafa fell out of the top 30 in the world for the first time since 2017, but still has plenty of game. We just aren’t as focused on either.

5 vs. 12

No. 5 Wisconsin is Patrick Cantlay – Reliably predictable for long stretches, taking you right to the doorstep of that big win and then… Cantlay misses the cut at The Players. Or Wisconsin doesn’t beat a ranked team since January.

No. 12 Oregon is Charles Howell III – Still basking in the glow of the win to get them here.

4 vs. 13

No. 4 Kansas State is Marc Leishman – Likable, but still dangling there as if we need proof they belong. A measure of greatness is that we are shocked when they don’t win. Would we be shocked if either got upset?

No. 13 UC-Irvine is Andrew Putnam – I was as surprised as you were to see both in the field. Putnam went to Pepperdine, which is only 65 miles from Irvine, but world’s apart in scenery.

6 vs. 11

No. 6 Villanova is Ian Poulter – Veteran leadership and both winners of the whole thing, nobody wants anything to do with this matchup in the tournament. Neither may be a strong as their peak versions, but nope, no way, no how, avoid this matchup.

No. 11 Saint Mary’s is JB Holmes – Yes, both won convincingly to get to this spot, but do you know which team was the seventh-slowest in adjusted tempo this year? Match made in heaven.

3 vs. 14

No. 3 Purdue is Francesco Molinari – Both may be the biggest overachiever in the field. The Boilermakers lost almost a whole lineup from a tourney team a year ago. Meanwhile, it’s not that the Italian is winning, it’s how dominant he can be in an era of the long ball. Trend-defying results from both.

No. 14 Old Dominion is Si Woo Kim – Every year, it seems, there is a week where both names come up. And then we play the rest of the season.

7 vs. 10

No. 7 Cincinnati is Gary Woodland – Don’t overlook either because there is a lot to like in the consistency and quality of play dating back to last fall.

No. 10 Iowa is Matt Kuchar – Just when you think the wholesome image is vanilla and simple, Kooch fails to tip his caddie appropriately, or Fran McCaffery gets suspended and the play-by-play guy gets fired. We liked our corn-fed, All-American stories controversy-free please.

2 vs. 15

No. 2 Tennessee is Rickie Fowler – An orange brand that never quite rises to the tippy top of the mountain. What Rick Barnes has done for the Volunteers is amazing, especially in the shadow of football at Rocky Top. What Rickie has done would be amazing in almost any career that wasn’t accompanied by the marketing hype. Maybe this tournament changes all that.

No. 15 Colgate is Tom Lewis – Quick, tell me one unique fact about either.

One region to go, and if you are following along and tracking your own bracket at home, you know that Lefty, Big Cat, DJ, Sergio and a few others are still on the board, which means that the Midwest region is absolutely stacked!

Midwest

1 vs. 16

No. 1 North Carolina is Dustin Johnson – Always there, always strong and always a threat. If there was one team this year that truly had the firepower to match a healthy Duke, it looked like UNC last weekend. If there is one player whose A-game can beat Rory’s A-game, it’s DJ. See: Championship, WGC Mexico. Here’s hoping 2019 treats us to three or four DJ-Rory driver duels.

No. 16 Iona is Russell Knox – About as equipped to beat UNC as Knox would be to beat DJ.

(BTW, this is not a knock on Knox, but think about this: He is ranked 62nd in the world and has a strokes gained total of +.540 on the PGA Tour this season. He is sizably better than average. DJ, however, ranks 2nd at +2.58, which means, in a vacuum, DJ is a full two strokes better every single time they each tee it up. Pretty remarkable to see that separation from guys only ranked 60 spots apart.)

8 vs. 9

No. 8 Utah State is Webb Simpson – Don’t let that wholesome outer shell fool you. This team hasn’t lost in a month, and Webb hasn’t missed a cut since last June.

No. 9 Washington is Branden Grace – Remember that South Africa stat from earlier? While Grace isn’t the highest ranked South African, he may be the country’s best hope for a future star, kinda like how Washington was the best team in a horrible down-trending Pac-12.

5 vs. 12

No. 5 Auburn is Sergio Garcia – How have they survived to be this good? Bruce Pearl is literally made of Teflon at this point, with controversy and FBI investigations circling his door. Yet, his Tigers won the SEC in dominant fashion. Sergio got DQ’d for destroying greens, shrugged it off and has maintained a solid stretch of form.

No. 12 New Mexico State is Abraham Ancer – Lurking. You were all warned.

4 vs. 13

No. 4 Kansas is Tiger Woods – An all-time great reduced to this seed line? Yes, but do you really care about the number in front of the name? Both have persevered through injury and disappointment to arrive at a tournament where it’s not about your overall record (or score), it’s simply about beating the other person/team across from you. Let’s roll the ball out and see which vintage we get.

No. 13 Northeastern is Ben An – As this point in the exercise every year, there are just a couple round pegs in square holes.

6 vs. 11

No. 6 Iowa State is Jason Day – This may seem unfair to a guy ranked 12th in the world, but Day could win any week, like the Cyclones did over Kansas and others to win the Big 12, or he could fall to an 11 seed after walking off the course with an injury, like how Iowa State lost three of four before last weekend. Feast or famine.

No. 11 Ohio State is Emiliano Grillo – Historically consistent, yet somehow just happy to be invited. And both over-pronounce the O.

3 vs. 14

No. 3 Houston is Jon Rahm – In much the same way Houston has been dominant, great and exceeding almost all expectations, there is a slime that hangs off of Kelvin Sampson for his past infractions. Will that ever go away? Will Rahm ever be able to conquer the spirit that forced him to hit that miss at No. 11 at Sawgrass. There is a tarnish right now impeding the progress towards greatness.

No. 14 Georgia State is Kyle Stanley – This one actually makes no sense, as both are polar opposites in personality. But, hey, they are dancing right?

7 vs. 10

No. 7 Wofford is Cameron Smith – Who doesn’t love a terrier? That’s Wofford’s mascot, while Cameron Smith’s lovable dog, a dachshund named Kendrick, is a regular on Tour.

No. 10 Seton Hall is Tyrrell Hatton – A lot of fight here for both, with firepower to knock off anybody. Both have a ton of grit.

2 vs. 15

No. 2 Kentucky is Phil Mickelson – I gave a lot of thought to swapping Phil with Tiger, but ended up over-seeding Lefty here because of the glitz and the glam. A big name brand that just keeps finding ways to win. Kentucky’s one-and-done ways have become as timeless as Phil’s all-or-nothing approach. New Twitter Phil makes us like him even more, in the same way John Calipari has been so present in our lives, we can’t help but to respect and admire the man. Both know how to play the “game” better than anybody in their field.

No. 15 Abilene Christian is Satoshi Kodaira – Hey look, a spot opened up for a guy who hasn’t finished better than 51st in a full-field event this season. Welcome to the tourney? Take a lot of pictures early.

To those who made it to the end, remember, pick with your head, not with your heart.

About the author

Will Haskett

Will Haskett

Will Haskett has had the privilege of broadcasting basketball, football, golf, soccer, tennis, cross country, track, swimming and lacrosse on every medium and in almost 30 states. He's worked for ESPN, Westwood One, CBS, Longhorn Network, Fox Sports, Turner Sports, Sirius/XM, the PGA Tour, the NCAA, Horizon League, Butler University, IHSAA and more. He's worked the Final Four, the Masters, PGA Championship and over 100 NCAA championships in 13 different sports.