Before you read the betting line, you’d better know the FAULT LINE. Specifically, the New Madrid fault line, which runs perilously close to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Seismologists predict an excellent chance of RIM-SHAKING TREMBLERS throughout the weekend, which favors the University of North Carolina TAR HEELS and their low-post power game.

Over the last two decades, the Michigan State University SPARTANS have a paltry 4-12 record in games played near a river whose average daily sediment load exceeds 300,000 tons. Consider that every day, the Mighty Mississippi moves an average of 436,000 TONS of sediment in her swift chocolate-brown waters! Do the math, sports fans.

Growing up in Florida, senior center Nick Smith of the University of Illinois wished for two things: a chance to win a national collegiate basketball championship, and a pony. Tragically, only one wish came true. Then last week Smith and his ILLINI teammates saw through the windows of the team bus a LONE SPOTTED PONY chewing her cud in a northern Illinois pasture. The sight of this gentle beast quietly enjoying the late-winter sunshine drove Smith to tears, unnamed sources report. Will this tender moment motivate Smith to have a MONSTER GAME, or will he ride into the sunset on a pony named DEFEAT?

Tar Heel forward Marvin Williams is in exquisite physical condition, not counting the TERRIFYING WATERBORNE PARASITIC WORM living in his left knee. Infected several months ago on a holiday clam dig near his hometown of Bremerton, Washington, the 6-foot-9-inch man-child has maintained his buttery-smooth jump shot and superb rebounding ability throughout the tourney. However, look for the knee of this explosive super-frosh to itself explode at any time in a DELUGE OF BLOOD AND TISSUE as thousands of newly hatched larvae eat their way through his epidermis and spill onto the hardwood in the most revolting scene of putridity the Final Four has witnessed since the early 1970s.

Campus sources report that the Louisville CHEERLEADING ROUTINE will be so hot, it may be impossible for Illini and Cardinal players alike to run the floor without EMBARRASSING ERECTIONS. Look for tight man-to-man defenses to suddenly shift to zone.

Throughout his career, Illinois head coach Bruce Weber has helped ensure success on the court with a hearty home-style breakfast. But unbeknownst to Weber, his team’s hotel only offers a heart-healthy breakfast buffet, which will certainly not include his standard pre-game repast of biscuits smothered in WHITE GRAVY, with a side of SCRAPPLE. Weber will discover this fact too late, and he will become despondent and unsure of himself. If Saturday’s contest is tight in the closing minutes, look for a still-gloomy Weber to stare vacantly into space, ignoring the desperate pleas of his young charges, and daydreaming about plates and plates of CREAMY, PIPING-HOT GRAVY.

With equal numbers of Tar Heels and Spartans asserting that “If I play my best, He will take care of the rest,” most SO-CALLED EXPERTS have concluded that the teams are evenly matched in the divine-grace department. But look closer: An exhaustive game-film analysis reveals a shortfall in crucifix and scripture tattoos for the squad from Lansing. And the Lord spoke: ADVANTAGE CAROLINA.