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Bracket madness

A.J. Godeaux | Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Everyone and their mother fills out a March Madness bracket. Literally. The ‘office pool’ has become as much a yearly tradition in America as fireworks on July 4th. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t count the tournament among their favorite sporting events, and filling out a bracket has become integral to the March Madness ‘experience.’ I have no problem with that. That being said, when said people, knowing nothing about college basketball, unapologetically swoop in and steal my bracket pool glory, that’s a different story.
In my years of participating in various bracket pools, I’ve come to the conclusion that those who fill out a March Madness bracket generally fall into one of three categories. The first are the college basketball nerds, people I have a ridiculous amount of respect for. These people pore through offensive and defensive stats, quality wins, strength of schedule and any other relevant statistic, examining each team like a brain surgeon. These people never, ever win.
The second category are the faithful-’til-death fans. These people, no matter how atrociously bad their teams are, always pick them to pull off a miraculous upset or make a Final Four run. Normally they fail miserably, picking their alma maters to upset the Dukes of the world. Once in a blue moon, they actually get it right, picking their alma maters to upset the Dukes of the world, as in last year’s upending of Duke by a ragtag team from Lehigh. Of course, with Duke being a top-ranked team in the country, the basketball nerds fell on their faces. That being said, I have a tremendous amount of respect for this group just for their unfaltering faithfulness.
This last group of fans I have no respect for. My mother, whom I respect in all areas outside athletic expertise, probably falls into this group, as does your five-year-old sister and the neighbor who watches the Food Network all day. These people pick James Madison to beat Indiana because James Madison was a president. They know nothing about college basketball. Yet inexplicably they pick the 2006 George Mason team to make a Final Four run because their best friend in high school went there, or better yet, because their campus is a half-hour from your house, as was the rationale of many of my classmates in the nightmare that was my fifth-grade bracket pool. This group wins 75 percent of bracket pools, I’m sure of it.
So while I spend hours looking at stat after stat, lineup after lineup, team after team, I hope those members of the third group hide their brackets. Because I will steal them, copy them verbatim and cheer like crazy for James Madison.

Contact A.J. Godeaux at [email protected]
    The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.