NCAA tournament brackets are like the 79 you shot in your latest round or the new car you just bought.
Your friends are happy for you, but no one really wants to hear any details about it.
We are about to enter the “How’s Your Bracket” season and I’m here to tell you that it’s the definition of a rhetorical question. An answer isn’t really necessary.
It’s not like somebody at work will get on the intercom and announce, “Hey everybody, Joe picked all the winners in the second round and is leading in the company bracket pool!”
What’s worse are the television announcers who let us know they have only two of their Final Four picks remaining after the opening weekend. What are we supposed to do? Send you a fruit tray and offer our condolences?
NCAA Tournament brackets seem like scorecard playoffs in golf – somebody else always wins. Someone who is not named you.
There’s no doubt that playing the NCAA bracket is fun and adds excitement to the Creighton-Utah Valley game. But no matter how well you think you are doing, there’s always someone out there who is doing better. What’s worse, they might not even know a basketball from a pumpkin.
I’m about 1-for-20 in bracket pools and I consider myself among the elite because I actually won one. It was 2010 and early in the season, I had seen Cornell go to Allen Fieldhouse and beat Kansas. That nugget landed somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain for a few months, knowing that it would need to be recalled come March.
One night during that same season, I couldn’t sleep so I found myself watching West Coast basketball and thought that St. Mary’s team wasn’t bad.
So when the bracket time came, both were double-digit seeds but I figured they were worth a shot. You know why? Because I didn’t care. I didn’t bother analyzing FanGraphs or KenPom; I realized that I didn’t know any better, so I took the morsel of information I had and went with it.
Not only did I pick Cornell and St. Mary’s to win one game; I picked them to win two. That was enough points to sock away the winner’s prize before the Final Four even started.
But if I were so smart, how come I haven’t even sniffed a title since? When I won the cash in 2010, I figured I was playing with house money for the next eight years. The house money ran out five years ago, proving that I am just like the rest of y’all.
This year, they are claiming that there are 20 teams that can win the championship, but history does not bear that out. Despite all of this talk about “Madness,” the tournament has been won by a No. 1 seed the last five times it’s been played. Overall, a No. 1 has won it 65 percent of the time, so you really don’t have to go fishing in a very deep pond to find a winner.
But the actual Final Four isn’t where the fun is. No, that comes when some guy from Northern Iowa with a last name so long it takes two jerseys to fit all the letters on it beats No. 1-seeded Kansas in the second round (that also happened in 2010). Unless you are related to Ali Farokhmanesh, you would have no reason to think that was possible.
So close your eyes.
Or throw a dart.
Or decide which mascot name would beat up the other mascot name in a fight. (That would rule out the Centenary Gentlemen if they were Division I.)
Choose however you’d like, because it doesn’t matter.
And whatever you do, keep it to yourself.
Contact JJ at email@example.com