Who doesn’t fill out a bracket?
Picking the winners in the NCAA basketball tournament has become a sport of its own among America’s sports fans. We follow Bracketology, we tune in en masse to the tournament selection show. We compare our picks with the picks of others. Then we proceed to mock the people who pick differently than us.
We enter office pools. We brag that we know things that others don’t. We say that we’ve watched Valparaiso play on television when we really haven’t, just to try and intimidate those who would pick against us.
Some fill out more than one bracket.
There are people who bleed and sweat as they pick the teams they think will win, and there are people who go through a bracket in no more than a couple of minutes, trusting their instincts.
People pick winning teams by the color of their uniforms or the name of the coach. Others use midnight oil to research a team down to the brand of sneakers its players wear.
For some, an NCAA bracket can bring a family closer together. At least until the games start, then most of the good will that has been done goes up in flames because wins and losses start to happen.
How many of your office pools have been won by somebody you swear doesn’t know a basketball is round? Happens all the time and it’s fun to see the reaction of the so-called “hoops guru” when it does.
I know people now who do a women’s NCAA Tournament bracket. Two years ago, when Wichita State won the men’s NIT, I filled out a stinkin’ NIT bracket. A really bad one, I might add.
The one thing we all have in common as we fill out an NCAA bracket is that, while we’re doing so, we think we’re going to win. Oh, there’s another thing we have in common when it comes to brackets – when it starts going bad, we find someone or something to fault.
Those of us who think we know a thing or two about basketball like to pick early upsets. There’s nothing we love more than to pick those 12s that are going to beat those 5s. Except that we usually pick the wrong 12 to beat the wrong 5.
There’s always one 5-year-old in the office pool that is in the thick of things going into the Final Four. You know that kid. More likely, you know that kid’s parent.
Mom or dad insists they handed the bracket to the kid and let him start picking, without any assistance. Yeah, sure you did. Do me a favor. Keep the snot-nosed kids out of your office pools. Give them Legos. That’s what a 5-year-old is supposed to be playing with.
And if you’re one of those people who knows nothing about basketball – maybe you think the Harlem Globetrotters are the best team in the world – then don’t run up to me impressed with your intellectual propensity when you lead the pool after the first weekend. I just want to slap those people.
As my anger builds at the idea of picking brackets, I should admit that I have never won one of these things. I have followed college basketball closely since 1963 and I have never won an office pool, an online pool or a family pool.
I’m usually in bad shape after the first day of games, actually. And it’s probably because I zip through my choices without giving them much thought. Perhaps I just need to slow down. But I can’t because I consider myself to be one of the smartest basketball guys in the room. And when it turns out I’m not, as it does every year, I convince myself that picking a bracket is more about blind luck than it is basketball intelligence.
Often my theory is supported when I see the woman from accounting, who thinks Gonzaga is a new design pattern on Pinterest, jumping up and down because she’s beaten the field by seven games.
I’m already bitter about my bracket and we haven’t even started.
For what it’s worth, I have Louisville, Georgetown, Indiana and Ohio State in my Final Four. There’s nothing crazy about that – two No. 1 seeds and a pair of No. 2s.
Wisconsin, a 5, is the lowest seed I have advancing to the Elite Eight.
I think Kansas State loses in the third round to Wisconsin. I’m picking Wichita State to lose to Pittsburgh. Sorry to the fans of both schools, but I want this to be my year.
In my bracket, Kansas loses to Georgetown in the Elite Eight. As I write that, though, I’m having serious second thoughts. So I just changed my ballot. Now KU gets to the Final Four before losing in the semifinals to Louisville, which then defeats Indiana in the championship game.
My darkhorse teams are Saint Louis, Colorado State, and Belmont (sure to be popular). I didn’t pick many second- or third-round upsets. I don’t have a 12 beating a 5, even though it happens almost every year. Check that, I just changed another pick. I’m going with Oregon, a 12, to knock off Oklahoma State.
I feel good about this bracket. The more I look at it, the more I think I’m going to win. I’m really good at this. I know my stuff.
Good luck on your bracket, too. Hey, hey, put some Play-Doh in front of that 5-year-old.