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Bracket business

Molly Sammon | Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More than 4.7 million brackets were submitted on ESPN’s online March Madness Bracket Challenge, none of which are still perfect as the Sweet 16 field rounded out on Sunday night.

At the top of the leader board, a man who I am quite convinced, more than likely, did not sit down and watch a single game of college basketball this entire season, is J. Lorenz, or jlrnz5. His ESPN profile wall is full of congratulatory comments from people he has never met, offering plenty of praise, plenty of jealous remarks and a handful of comments that referred to him as God. Congratulations, J. Lorenz. Congratulations at being one of the following: really good at coin flipping, or really uninformed about men’s college basketball.

I knew, and I assume many Notre Dame students knew as well, that it was going to be a long month of March as soon as Carleton Scott’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer was unsuccessful in the loss to Old Dominion.

There is one person on record who has a perfect bracket so far: 17-year-old Alex Hermann, a high school senior from south Chicago who has been studying all season long and memorizing plenty of statistics so he could correctly predict the first two rounds. Hermann is autistic with high performance levels in mathematics and memory. At the halfway point in the tournament, he’s well on his way to the one in one trillion chance that he successfully formed a perfect bracket.

He was not fooled by the Kansas Jayhawks confidence. He did not listen to all of the reporters who claimed the Big East would be taking over the tournament, and he saw talent in Cornell, even though everyone knows not to count on the Ivy League in college basketball.

Who did he award the coveted championship to? The Purdue Boilermakers, of course. A few weeks ago, I would have thought he could not have been more off, but after judging how the last two rounds went, I am reluctant to say that was a bad call on Hermann’s part. With Robbie Hummel injured and an overtime nail-biter to get them to the Sweet 16, the Boilers have a tough road ahead of them if they wish to still be playing in April.

Aside from successfully selecting each winner thus far, Hermann has also accomplished something else I would never have guessed anyone could do. For my entire life, I’ve been a Notre Dame fan in Purdue territory, fiercely cheering against the Boilers. 

For the first time in my entire life, I’m pulling for the Boilermakers.