It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ides of March Madness

If Julius Caesar were alive today, he'd be over 2000 years old, crinkly as a Ruffles potato chip, and really, really cranky. After turning on today's sports coverage, he also might say something along the lines of "Et tu Kellogg?" after watching the Harvard Crimson flail around in the first round like Brutus's conscience in Shakespeare's highly un-athletic play.*

It's all because March brings madness in the form of basketball and especially the NCAA Tournament brackets. As I write this, millions of people across the USA are fitfully weighing the shooting averages, points per game, and cheer-leading outfits of teams they've not watched all season. Most of their conclusions will be wrong, because, who picks a perfect bracket? It's harder than sitting through an entire episode of Joan Rivers' Fashion Police without making a inconsiderate plastic surgery joke ...or for that matter, just getting to a commercial break.

However, there are some effective strategies for picking a decent bracket. What they are, I cannot tell you, as my brackets usually explode like a hot water balloon about 15 seconds into the opening game. However, I do have some helpful suggestions:

  • Pick the team that will win. Oh, sure, you say that's obvious but let's see you do it.
  • Don't pick Slippery Rock University. Seriously. They're not in Division I. Trust me; I make this mistake every year.
  • Don't go by the team nicknames. You'd think a bunch of Bulls from South Florida would trample Owls from Temple, but apparently owls got game. 
  • The previous rule does not apply to teams named the Aardvarks. You can safely pick anyone playing against the Aardvarks, including grade school teams.
  • Don't pick 16 seeds to win a game. They never have. (So, of course one will today, just because I'm writing this. Jerks.)
  • Assume that at least one number 1 seed will reach the Final Four. Basketball experts may seem like overconfident, opinionated blowhards sometimes, but they watch a lot of basketball. More to the point, they don't actually pick the seeds. Usually 1-2 number 1 seeds get to the Final Four, just because they can.
  • Don't get Cinderella crazy. Sure, the real Cinderella's a cute blonde with a thing for see-through shoes and dramatic exits, but Cinderella stories in the NCAA tourney are upset wins. While it's great fun to see overconfident, over-funded college athletic programs get beat by smaller teams, it won't happen in every game. So, try not to pick more than 15 to 20 of these per round.
  • You know the saying, "good guards make good teams?" Check and see which teams have the best security. ("Brinks, for the trey!")
  • Experienced coaches can get teams farther in the tourney. Nah, I'm just kidding. It's a crap shoot and they know it. Good coaches go out early all the time. It's great fun watching them kick chairs on the way to give their winning counterpart a death-grip congratulatory handshake. It's like watching all the nominees who didn't win Oscars rolled up into one angry former athlete.
  • Don't just go by how a team looks. I have found that closing my eyes when I pick helps. Except when I miss the bracket and accidentally click on links to Cialis ads. They're all over sports sites for some reason.
  • Tall guys are good at basketball. Just saying.
Good luck, and Happy Madness!

* Seriously, there's not a single crossover dribble until Act V.

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