Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's March Madness Time! Apparently.

March Madness, generally, is a hell of a tournament. Often I consider the first two rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship to be the four best sports days of the year, and usually I can't wait for them. In college the first two rounds always fell during my spring break, and I recall each year that my friend Duane and I would sit down on his couch at 11:50 and not move until midnight, keeping our laptops with our brackets open all the while. In short, it was exciting, amazing, thrilling and for much of March it's almost always been all I can think about.

But not this year.

Don't ask me why, exactly, because I can't quite tell, but for some reason I'm just sort of ambivalent this year. Perhaps it's because I missed the actual selection show while in the U.S. for the first time in years so I could have dinner with my cousin in Georgetown on Sunday, or perhaps it's because a busy schedule at work has kept me from seeing the bracket until this afternoon, or just maybe it's because the only basketball game that really matters this year happens to be Wednesday night and not in the NCAA Tournament at all.

It could be any of those reasons. In all honesty, I really have no idea, but for some reason, I'm just not overly excited, to the point that I filled out my bracket this afternoon as almost more of an obligation than a joy. And it also happens to be a highly unresearched bracket. Just how unresearched it is, you ask? Well, a year ago, I was in Israel, and hastily filled out a bracket on a timed computer terminal in the southern desert city of Eilat, and that bracket performed, er, terribly.

That bracket, filled out in a span of forty seconds because the time purchased by my five shekels was expiring, was more well thought out than this one.

Really!

So yeah, I have no idea who is going to win or if I picked anything even remotely close to what could or will happen, but you can see the uneducated misery to the left yourself. I decided to go with a tried and true method of picking a few upsets early and mostly going with the chalk later. Not that it matters since with the pointlessly expanded bracket this year, the odds of getting the whole shabang right were a tidy 9.25 quintillion to one back in the old format and I don't have nearly the energy required to figure it out in the new one. Apparently, I have a better chance of winning an Olympic gold medal, which I supposed means... I have a chance of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Essentially, as the numerous other brackets to be found on the internet prove, we really have no idea what will happen. You may as well hand in a bracket to your pool where Princeton wins. Or ones that don't bother with basketball, but instead seek to answer the really big questions that plague philosophers.

In my bracket, you'll notice that, among other things, I've picked Pitt to win the whole thing mostly because a) they got a joke of a No. 2 seed in Florida, b) I think they'll be driven by their early exit from the Big East Tournament, c) I didn't want to see Duke win. Not that that matters since I have UNC coming out of the Blue Devils' bracket, but I have the feeling they're going to get picked off somewhere.

And speaking of getting picked off, you better believe I don't have No. 1 Ohio State reaching the Final Four. And how could I pick against a team with the versatile Jared Sullinger, you ask? Well the answer is simple. I don't care how good your record is. No team -- none -- gets taken to the final minute by Northwestern not once, but twice, including once on a neutral floor, and then makes it to the Final Four. Sorry. It ain't happening, and just because I didn't see it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

And trust me on this. I'm a sportswriter. I interview people and write stories about their impressive rookie campaigns. I know these things. The fact that I may have written stories about two different teams being touted as championship contenders only to see both of them lose their next game is entirely immaterial.

My word is as good as gold here. My bracket is brilliant. My bracket will rule the day. My bracket will almost certainly get every single game right. Just imagine how perfect my bracket would be if I were actually into it this year.

Don't worry, I'm sure I will be come Thursday. Happy basketballing.

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