The Way I See It, tonight (Thursday) will separate the knowledgeable from the clueless when it comes to men's collegiate basketball.

That's because Duke and LSU meet in Atlanta, Gonzaga and UCLA oppose one another in Oakland and Connecticut will jump center with the Washington Huskies in D.C.

Why are these match-ups significant? Because our general manager, Dick Carrigan, and I have a lunch wagered on the outcome of this year's 2006 NCAA Division I men's basketball championship. Dick has Duke, Gonzaga and Connecticut going into tonight's match-ups. Suffice it to say I don't. I've got the Tigers, Bruins and western Huskies. Yes, it will be a dogfight in the MCI Center with two Huskies dribbling instead of drooling on the court.

Going into tonight's Sweet 16 match-ups I've got 11 teams remaining in the hunt, Dick has nine. But the outcome of these three games will separate the maven from the moron.

Dick's Elite Eight had Duke versus Texas, Kansas vs Gonzaga, UConn vs Michigan State and BC vs Ohio State.

Nick Browne, a sports columnist for the Tribune and a good one, had LSU vs Texas, Bucknell vs UCLA, UConn vs UNC and Villanova vs Ohio State. Yours truly selected LSU vs Texas, Pitt vs UCLA, Washington vs Tennessee and Villanova vs Ohio State.

All three of us have egg on our faces for some of those off-the-wall picks. But all three of us remain alive with our picks for the National champ. Dick has Duke and UConn at Indianapolis for the National Championship with the Blue Devils winning it all. Nick has Villanova and UCLA in the finals with the Wildcats clawing out a victory over the Bruins, while I have LSU and Villanova at the Big Dance with the Tigers clawing a bit deeper than the Wildcats.

We witnessed some major upsets, and there are undoubtedly more to come. Tonight is a huge turning point for Dick and I in this March Madness spectacle. The outcome of tonight's match-ups will determine if I reserve that table at the Gallery Grille and inform Melissa to hand me the check.

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