In last year’s Sweet Sixteen of Liberty, I had a Final 4 of Tennessee, Xavier, Kentucky and Baylor with Tennessee slipping by Baylor for the National Title.  Let this be a lesson to you.  These picks are for entertainment purposes only.  If my picks had been correct Bruce Pearl would still be singing Rocky Top today.   I went 5-3 in the Sweet 16, but then it pretty much fell apart from there as I had no Final Four teams and Duke blatantly defied Rules 5 and 6 to defeat Butler for the title.

My colleagues have already rolled out the Southeast, Southwest and East regions.  So now we turn to the West regional where Duke takes on Arizona and San Diego State meets UConn.  The rules are the same as last year and as listed by Jeremy with the caveat that as a Wahoo I reject his new “UNC must win” rule – particularly given UNC’s egregious First Amendment history. (And as the flagship of the state system I’d also heap some added sprinkling of scorn on the Heels for UNC Wilmington’s ridiculous and unconstitutional treatment of Professor Mike Adams).  Sadly, while UVA has been busy getting its First Amendment house in order it hasn’t quite gotten back to basketball relevance so I’ll have to wait for my vengeance until next year.  Next year, right?

Duke v. Arizona

This is a match-up of a public university whose speech policies have been given a red light rating by FIRE (Arizona), and a private university with a yellow light rating (Duke).  As indicated by its rating, Duke has some room to improve.  It requires student groups to reserve space 7 days in advance and broadly prohibits students from “harassing” other students via email with the example given of sending “unsolicited messages.”  Aren’t most emails we send one another unsolicited?  Duke’s Women’s Center did prohibit the Students for Life group from hosting a motherhood event because of its pro-life views, but it later repented and pledged to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

But Duke’s speech issues are nothing compared to Arizona’s.  Arizona’s red light policies include a “civility” policy that states:

We define civility as being respectful in all your relationships by respecting the dignity, value and worth of all persons.  You may not … verbally, mentally, [or] psychologically … abuse any member of our community, or participate in or condone any form of bigotry, harassment, intimidation or threat, whether verbal, written, physical or psychological, direct or implied.

What exactly is implied psychological bigotry?  Setting that aside, this policy and the “Bias-Related Incidents and Hate Crimes” policy (“A bias incident is an event that constitutes an expression of hostility toward an individual or a group and is motivated in whole or in part by the perpetrator’s bias”) sweep in an enormous amount of constitutionally protected student speech.  They empower administrators to punish student speech on controversial topics simply because the administrator/amateur psychiatrist believes that a student spoke out of “bigotry” or “bias.”   When you add in Arizona’s denial of recognition to a pro-life group that wanted its members to be pro-life, one could make a strong case that Duke should be the clear winner here.

But then one would be overlooking the critical rules 5 and 6.  Is this fair to Duke?  No.  But then life isn’t fair.  Ask Amaru Timberlake.  Plus, I didn’t make the rules.  (Actually, I kind of did but that’s beside the point).  Slap the floor and flop all you want Dukies, it’s not going to help.  The Universe is balanced as Duke gets robbed.

Pick (entirely on the strength of Rules 5 and 6) – Arizona.

UConn v. San Diego State

Both schools draw red light ratings from FIRE.

In addition to an overbroad harassment policy, UConn permits its Residence Life staff the unlimited discretion to prohibit postings they find to include “inappropriate content” and broadly prohibits the “[u]se of a University email address in a manner that is not conducive to the academic mission.”  ALL of a student’s emails must be “conducive to the academic mission” of UConn?

But San Diego State is the clear First Amendment loser here.  Aside from its ample speech code and speech zone problems as noted by FIRE, San Diego State is also presently denying recognition to Christian fraternities and sororities because of their exercise of their right to limit membership to Christians.  Even though San Diego State has recognized religious and other groups that limit their membership to those who share the groups’ views and expressly permits fraternities and sororities to limit membership on the basis of gender, it denies those same rights of association to our clients, Christian fraternities and sororities. The case is presently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.  Congrats on the first tourney wins in school history, but the First Amendment isn’t impressed.

Pick – UConn.

The West regional final pits UConn against Arizona and the Wildcats’ luck runs out.  Arizona’s myriad of First Amendment problems drops them a game short of the Final Four.

Pick – Uconn to the Final Four.