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Students fill out NCAA brackets, plan pools

John Everett | Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Notre Dame students passed through the four stages of grief – depression, denial, anger and acceptance – after learning Sunday that the men’s basketball team would not be participating in the NCAA tournament and would instead be relegated to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). But their own team’s fate hasn’t stopped many from jumping into the March tradition of filling out brackets – competing online, in dorms and across campus.March Madness, the nickname given to the NCAA tourney due to its unpredictability, is one of the most widely wagered-on sporting events of the year.Very rare is the workplace without an office pool, and even those less knowledgeable on the subject of college basketball are often participants. Not everyone is pleased with the bracket-mania – critics have claimed these pools are a violation of anti-gambling laws. Legal or not, employers may have a right to gripe about the tournament.A survey cited on ESPN.com stated that last year, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament caused a $1.5 billion loss in productivity to the U.S. economy due to time wasted filling out brackets and the more hoops-mad workers taking sick days to catch all the action.At Notre Dame, Brian Tracy, president of the Leprechaun Legion and a resident assistant in Knott Hall who will be running a dorm-wide bracket pool this year, said he does not see any hostility on the University’s part towards the pools. “As far as I know, brackets are fully legal as long as student-athletes aren’t involved. I would bet that at least every guys’ dorm has one,” Tracy said.Several women’s dorms on campus are also organizing their own tournament pools. Cavanaugh vice president Monica Selak said she and fellow dorm officers decided to organize a tournament pool just this week. Participants will be charged $3 to enter, and all the money collected will help sponsor a service trip to a needy school in Phoenix, Ariz. The eventual bracket winner will receive a gift certificate to Target. “We were trying to find a creative way to do some sort of social service activity and we figured this would be a great way to raise money,” said Selak. Every student has a different approach to filling out his or her bracket. Some pick all the favorites, some go for a lot of upsets, some go with their favorite team to win it all, while others are a bit more realistic.Freshman Tom Manning has UConn, Syracuse, Arizona and Texas Tech in his Final Four.”I go by the coach when I’m filling the bracket out,” Manning said. With coaches Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Lute Olsen and Bob Knight, Manning has four of the best in NCAA history. Freshman Paul Quintela’s Final Four is a bit more predictable and is comprised of Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina and Illinois. Three of those teams are seeded first in their region, and Wake Forest is a 2-seed.However, the rest of his bracket is loaded with upsets, including LSU reaching the Sweet Sixteen. Quintela credits “those sweet purple uniforms,” with his LSU pick.

Megan O’Neil contributed to this report.