Guessing Game


There is no need for all this madness. I bet you are reading this article looking for some help regarding your bracket. You’ve dropped x amount of money on your bracket(s), and you’re looking for any possible one-up on the next guy. No amount of research is enough. You’ve delved into each matchup and potential matchup for hours. Instead of listening in class, or earning your salary at work, you’re working on your bracket. You’ve read every supposed expert. And you still have no clue who’s going to win the Old Dominion/Butler game, which #1 seed will fall early and which low seed will be this years version of 2006 George Mason.

I’m here to tell you to guess. There is no way of knowing. Basketball is a game of chance, and in a series of one game sudden death playoffs, anything can happen. How many people called Northern Iowa upsetting Kansas in the round of 32 last year? Now how many of you were anything more than a casual fan, or filled out the bracket as more of a joke? The best way to fill out a bracket, beyond the semi-obvious 1-16 and 2-15 games, is probably just to throw darts and see what comes up. My fellow blogger  Norm has either posted his picks at this point, or is about to. Now I’m not saying not to read his article, since we need the views (if not for anything but pride and bragging), but don’t take it too seriously. For that matter, I would trust a bracket that Charlie Sheen made while banging down 7 gram rocks (because that’s how he rolls) just as much as a bracket put together by NCAA tournament expert and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas.

You’re probably now thinking that this is a little silly, and that there is some logic to picking your winners. Sure, I’ll give you that. There is a reason these teams are ranked. But really, I’d say every team that makes it to the second weekend (i.e. the Sweet Sixteen) is about equal. You have your #1 seeds, who are expected to be there and under pressure to keep winning. You have your 3-6 seeds, who are happy that they are there, but realize that it isn’t enough. Then you have your cinderella teams, who have nothing to lose and are willing to take chances that a higher seed would not take to win a game. All teams in the Sweet Sixteen have momentum. This is where dart-throwing becomes especially effective.

I did fill out a bracket this year, and I did do research to make sure I didn’t waste $10 on a bracket that’s going to be busted in the first round. When making my picks for the first weekend, I looked at two things: defensive efficiency and whether the team has been hot lately. I did this to make sure I wasn’t picking a team to go far that allows 75 points a game, or a team who suspended their star rebounder for having sex in college (I wonder if BYU would have taken the same measures on Jimmer). Past the first two rounds, I went with instincts. These teams are way too evenly matched to leave it to anything but that.

If there was a solid way of making picks for the NCAA tournament, I’m sure someone would have at least come close to a perfect bracket. But there is no way of knowing in a one game series. This is why the NBA plays four 7 game series. Over the course of one game, the heavy underdog could get lucky and top the favourite. Over the course of seven, it is highly improbable. Thats what makes the NCAA tourney so exhilarating, and why people like me, who barely follow college basketball throughout the regular season, get so hyped up for the Madness.

Last year, for the first time, I decided to enter one of these March Madness Pools. Having no prior knowledge of college hoops, I figured I had equal chances to that of the groundhog actually getting his winter predictions correct. I picked mostly based on rankings, with a few upsets littered here and there. Lo and behold, come the Final Four, I was one West Virginia win away from the greatest underdog story in pool history. Unfortunately, they lost but it serves to prove the point of this article: There is very little logic involved when picking winners in March Madness.

You can go out and do all the research you want, if it makes you feel better. But know this: it will make a very minimal difference, if any at all. With that, may the person who worries the least about their bracket win.

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