BRISTOL, CT ( – Every one of the 1.2 billion NCAA tournament brackets submitted online to ESPN predicts that China’s Tsinghua University will beat the “University of Kansastan” to win the national basketball championship, according to ESPN, which conceded it may have been hacked.

Upset-minded ESPN bracket entrants favor 16-seed Xiamen to beat Nankai and make the Sweet 16.

Not only was Beijing-based Tsinghua the most popular pick among the record-setting and “somewhat suspicious” number of entrees, but three of the coveted Final Four spots went to Chinese universities, while perennial powerhouses like Georgetown, North Carolina, Michigan State and Gonzaga appear to have been replaced by “George Bush Town,” “Northerly Caruluan,” “Michuguan Province,” and “Godzilla.”

The news immediately drew outrage from basketball fans and coaches, but ESPN spokesman Marshall Gawdree said the brackets are only predictions.

“Everyone wants their team to be the favorite, but the people have spoken, and they’re picking Tsinghua,” said Gawdree. “If it makes anyone feel better, the top choice among our entry pool doesn’t usually win.”

“What would make me feel better is if we were in the tournament,” railed Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “We were a 2-seed and now we’re not there at all.”

“Not necessarily,” Gawdree pointed out. “There is a Duk University. Most brackets predict them to lose to Beijing Forestry University in the first round, though. Tough luck.”

Mike Bobinski, chairman of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, said he was as surprised as anyone to discover that 52 Chinese universities were included in the field of 68 men’s teams, a quirk he put down to a computer glitch.

“Every year people get upset that their team isn’t going to the big dance and this year is no different,” said Bobinski. “But we’ve checked our computers with ESPN’s, and they both have the same schools listed. Obviously the schools we initially announced were wrong. We’re sorry for the kids at Creighton and Bucknell, but hopefully we can move on and get excited for the kids at Xiamen and Wuhan.

“Oh, and the Final Four is going to be in Beijing, not Atlanta,” he added. “Our bad.”

Despite the disappointment, ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said he can’t wait for March Madness to begin.

“This is going to be the craziest tourney of all time baby!” enthused Vitale. “I like Tsinghua. They’ve got a pair of guards in Xing and Li who can drain the tres like water from the Three Gorges Damn. But beware of the big men from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology. They’re like a Great Wall in the paint. And don’t forget the smothering terra cotta warriors from Xi’an Jiao Tong U, under legendary coach Ni Ping, baby!
“As usual, I have no idea what I’m saying,” Vitale added.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, denied hacking into ESPN and NCAA computers, but predicted that Tsinghua, the alma mater of new Chinese leader Xi Jinping, would go on to glorious victory.

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