Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Madness 2016: The year of the perfect bracket

You guys. It's going to happen. I can feel it. After so many years of straining and stressing it's finally my time. After 16 years of filling out brackets, this is the year I go for perfection. This is the year I go 63-0 because play-in games are generally stupid.

This is the year I fill out the perfect bracket.

Now, I know what you're saying. "Dave, filling out a perfect NCAA Bracket is virtually impossible." Sure, there's that argument to be made. But in recent years I've recognized that I have a cause, a purpose, that I have been ignoring for years. For you see, I am a graduate of Northwestern University. And as a graduate of Northwestern University, I have committed to a life of never having a vested interest in the NCAA Tournament.

Rooting for the Wildcats is a nasty, brutish and, unfortunately, long experience in which you know the end result will never involve dancing. Northwestern, after all, is the only power conference program to never reach the NCAA Tournament and even our few mid-major comrades in arms are beginning to fall off the map. In recent years, Buffalo, Norfolk State, Stony Brook and Cal State-Bakersfield have all managed to reach March Madness and even NU's snake-bitten former coach Bill Carmody somehow rode a purple wave into the bracket this season. The Cats, however, will be watching on TV Thursday for the 77th year in a row.

That's not necessarily a bad thing though. Much like Bender's inability to taste freeing him of personal preference so he can focus on pure flavor, I have no emotional pangs stretching me in awkward directions when it comes to selection bias. This is something I have not recognized prior to this season, when even 20 wins and some near upsets at Maryland and Michigan weren't even good enough to reach the NIT. Now, however, it is clear. As a Northwestern fan, I have been given a gift, and with my mind free of incursion from popular passions, as Thomas Jefferson might have called them, I am able to harness my mental energy toward picking the perfect NCAA Tournament field.

There's simply no other conclusion to draw. Why else would Northwestern's men's basketball program be granted such futility if not for the purpose of creating the possibility that one of its alums might be granted the opportunity to pursue this noble effort without interference? It must be the case. And after past flirtations with a perfect bracket that have lasted almost two full days into the three-week-long tournament I can only assume these were past hints of what is possible. It must be someone.

And maybe it's me.

It has only taken me this long to understand my place in the universe because of sheer ignorance and obliviousness. But now that I know my purpose, my destiny, the reason that I suffer, it is time to use my gift for, well, if you're hoping it's a clue for betting in Vegas, I guess good or bad. Without further ado, I present my picks for the perfect bracket. Use them wisely.

Memorize it well, my friends. This is perfection you can take to the bank.* For that, you can thank my attendance at Northwestern University, a place where I will never have to worry about my own thoughts and feelings clouding my judgment when it comes to bracket selection. At long last, my education has given me something.

Enjoy the basketball. Enjoy the perfection. Try not to be too much in awe. And if UNC-Wilmington somehow upsets Duke in the opening game of the tournament? Well, let's forget we ever had this discussion.

*I am not responsible for lost funds via gambling that cannot actually be taken to a bank.

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