Why you won’t win your NCAA Bracket

It’s March and you know what that means (no, not drinking green beer at 9am on a weekday), it’s March Madness time.  That sports jonesing you feel between the end of football and the beginning baseball gets a much needed fix. Golf, NASCAR, and hockey are nice but there is something about March Madness a 30’ birdie putt just can’t provide.  It is a time to celebrate elite college athletes and the spirit of honest competition by gambling like Pete Rose at a Las Vegas Texas Hold’em Tournament. We are going to sacrifice productivity at work, time with our families, and common sense all in the name of winning bracket challenges we’ve spent way too much time crafting.  Because you don’t need to know anything about basketball to fill out bracket, we all become bracketologists in March.  We all have hopes of winning the office challenge or online contests with our meticulously chosen field of 64 (I know there are 68 teams but no one cares about the first 4 games).  Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you why you won’t be winning…again.

  1. Alumni Association. Congratulations, the school you graduated from is in the dance as a #15 seed going against UNC in Raleigh in the first round. Because of your devotion to your alma mater, you have them picked to go to the Elite 8. Go team…all the way home. See you next year.
  2. Girls.  You might as well rip up your bracket as soon as the first female joins the pool.  Their prophetic powers of picking teams to advance by uniform colors, mascots, and hair styles will put to shame your hours of studying and research.
  3. If its Free.  ESPN, The SportingNews, and all other sports outlets have free bracket challenges because they know how hard it is to actually win.  If it were easy, we’d all be living in Vegas.
  4. Law of Diminishing Returns. Filling out your 38th different bracket isn’t going to increase your chances of winning, especially when you repeated the same picks in 15 of those brackets. More doesn’t mean better.
  5. 12/5. We all know about the 12 seed upsetting the 5 seed made popular by Gonzaga so many years ago. What we don’t know is which 12 seed is going to beat which 5 seed and guaranteed, you picked the wrong one.
  6. Upsets. They are called upsets because they don’t happen all the time. Stop picking three 11 seeds to be in the Final Four every year.
  7. Chalkboard.  You think you’ve figured out the formula to put you over the top this year. You’re going to go all chalk and put four #1’s in the Final Four.  Well Bobby Knight, since 1985, there has not been a time when all four #1’s have made it to the Final Four. You had better luck with your 11 seeds.
  8. Seek Expert Advice. You’ve devoted your life to the preachings of Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis, and Dick Vitale to help fill in your brackets. Problem is, they’re just guessing too and one of those guesses you now consider scripture is from Dick Vitale. Try again Diaper Dandy.
  9. George Mason. Damn the Patriots’ 2006 run to the Final Four. Their improbable run only cements your idea that an 11 seed can make it to the Final Four every year.
  10. Experience isn’t Everything. Yes Kentucky, UNC, Duke, UCLA are at the top of the list for Final Four appearances but each one has been upset early in tournaments. That upset can come at any time, like another tweet from Charlie Sheen. Just because they’ve been there the most, doesn’t mean they’re getting there again this year.
  11. Reality TV.  Its sports. A bad call, stupid turnover, or a point shaving scandal can topple even the mightiest of teams (Syracuse, Kansas, UNC, Duke all come to mind immediately).
  12. Big pond.  You’re putting your college basketball acumen to the test against thousands of (mostly) men who have forsaken relationships, jobs, and moving out of their parents’ basement to win the March Madness bracket.  Its like you going up against a thousand Watsons in a Jeopardy tournament of champions.
  13. Perfection.  You picked the right 12/5 upset. You miraculously chose the 14 seed to make it to round 2 and your bracket is looking good. That is until you find out some anonymous schlub from Toledo, in your league, picked every first round game correctly…and in the second round too.
  14. Trashed Thoughts.  After you messed up the 8/9 7/10 and 3/14 games you tossed the bracket in the trash. The thought of looking at Round 2 makes you sicker than Rob Zombie’s imagination.  Then you remember your picks in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 and build up hope. You go digging through your trash for your bracket only to find out those picks you thought you remembered you made were picks you were going to make but didn’t. Try to hold on to your bracket this year, even though it sucks.
  15. Who’s Coppin State? Your knowledge of college basketball doesn’t go much further than Kentucky is usually good and if a gun were pointed at your head you still couldn’t spell Krzyzewski (if you get him to say his name backwards, Duke will lose in the first round). You might as well ask your girlfriend for help.
  16. First instinct.  The brackets come out Sunday night online. You begin working on them immediately.  The games don’t start until that Thursday, which means you have about 96 hours to deliberate on your picks. This is also the amount of times you will change your picks before Thursday. You should have left Ohio State in the Elite 8 when you picked them the first time.
  17. Bad Picking.  Instead of picking all the games (and risking embarrassment by losing to your co-worker’s kids) you decide to have everyone at work pick a team name from the hat. This team will be your team in the tournament.  Problem is, you picked the team that has to play on Monday night before the tournament starts to see if they even get the opportunity to play the #1 seed.
  18. Which Bracket. You know as well as I do, there is no way on God’s green Earth you are only filling out one bracket. In fact, you are filling out at least a dozen. This results in overlapping picks, not knowing which bracket to submit to which league and generally confusing you more than Glenn Beck’s success.
  19. Haste makes Waste. In your rush to finalize your bracket for the 112th time, you pick UNC to win it all and hand it in.  Good job had you picked UNC but in your haste to finish, you picked UNC-Charolette.  Way to be aware of the situation Chris Webber.
  20. Doomed to Repeat.  You have used your “method” of picking your brackets since 2001 when you picked #15 Hampton over #2 Iowa State. Trouble is, you didn’t win that year and you haven’t ever won with that “method” yet you refuse to change. You know what they say about not learning from history?
  21. Villanova.  Yes, a #8 seed won the championship.  Know how many times a seed that low as won the championship? Once. Stop picking low seeds to win (and NC State as a sixth seed winning it in ’83 is an exception, not the rule).
  22. Traditional Powers.  Since the mass exodus of quality players to the NBA, college powerhouses have seemed much less traditional in their power.  Sure they are good, get the high seeds, but they aren’t as powerful as they were 20 years ago and yet you still pick all four #1’s in the Final Four (see reason no. 7 please). How about some diversity?
  23. Blocked.  Your wife, fed up with your obsessive compulsion of sporting events has laid down a ultimatium.  You get one sporting event for the year to ignore decency, common sense, and your family for.  So much for that upset special you were going to pick you poor bastard.
  24. Laettner.  Take your pick. Laettner’s shot against Kentucky, Tyus Edney’s full court floater vs. Missouri, Bryce Drew’s heave against Mississippi or Lorenzo Charles’ dunk vs. Phi Slamma Jamma.  All equally devastating to anyone who picked Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, or Houston in their brackets…like you.
  25. Timeout.  Because you’ve been beaten down by the NCAA Tournament Bracket more times than the Iron Sheik versus Hulk Hogan, you decide this is the year you take a break from entering any bracket contests to gather your wits and regroup for next year (Coincidentally, this is the year your bracket would have beat everyone elses.)
  26. Very Superstitious. You have gone through the entire season wearing your Arizona Wildcat tee shirt and foam finger.  Your dedication to the occult has led Arizona to a number 1 seed and in the 2nd Round against Coastal Carolina you decide to put the foam finger away and wear a different Wildcats tee shirt. Thanks to you ignoring the impact of superstitions, you effectively jinx the entire team and your bracket (I changed my regular garb when the Eagles played in the Superbowl in ’04 and I still can’t forgive myself).
  27. You What? You forgot to enter your bracket on time? Huh? You just spent the last 4 days working on this thing like Michelangelo working on the Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel and you forgot to get it in on time? Not only don’t you deserve to win (ever) but you are a discredit to hoops.
  28. Trash Talking.  Your 1st Round was all but perfect.  You are flying high and are not ashamed to let your entire office know about it.  Then the weekend comes and Round 2.  John Wooden and the rest of the basketball gods smite your bracket because of your arrogance.  Next time keep your mouth shut (and really, did you think Florida State was going to do anything?)
  29. Joining the Experts.  If you have decided to join an online league that all the experts have joined as well to go “head to head” with them, then you might as well crumple up your list and start on your ‘Honey Do’ list now.  Yes, reason 8 disproves the title ‘expert’ but their best guesses are light years ahead of yours. Good luck with that league Skippy.
  30. After all of this, do we really need a 30th reason?  Haven’t you put yourself, family, friends, and dignity through enough with that bracket? Now put it down and go play with your kids.
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