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Wojciak: The Do’s and Don’ts of March Madness

| Friday, March 20, 2015

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year when nearly everyone you know claims to have a significant interest in three weekends of college basketball, even if they have not watched a single regular season game.

The time of year when everyone appoints themselves “experts” when it comes to their ability to pick the winners of college basketball games.

The time of year when all of your school or work-related responsibilities take a back seat to sitting on the couch or at your desk to watch basketball.

You already know what I’m talking about: March Madness.

March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year for a sports fan. The constant excitement and unpredictability that comes with nearly every game of the tournament leaves you on the edge of your seat throughout. But before you start binge-watching college basketball this weekend, be sure to remember these do’s and don’ts.

DO: Fill out a bracket. Yes, I know that there are some people that say it is more enjoyable to watch the games without a bracket because most people’s brackets turn out to be drastically wrong. But I would argue that filling out a bracket makes the games more enjoyable. Unless you are a diehard basketball fan, you probably won’t have that much of an interest in, say, the No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed matchup. But if you fill out a bracket, you will find yourself suddenly pulling hard for a team that you have never had an interest in before. You can still enjoy the games and get excited over the buzzer beaters, and when your bracket becomes destroyed, just accept defeat and move on. You won’t regret trying, especially if you are in a bracket pool with your buddies.

DON’T: Now that you’ve decided to fill out your bracket, do not say that your bracket is “busted” just because of one game during the first weekend of the tournament. The only way that this is absolutely true is if the team you predicted to win the championship gets knocked out in the first weekend. In this case, yes, your bracket is done. If one of your Final Four teams gets knocked out early, your bracket certainly won’t be in good shape, but it’s not dead. Just because a team you had in the sweet 16 or even the elite eight gets knocked out early, there are still plenty of other games for you to win. In nearly every winning bracket, you must accurately predict the national champion and the runner-up. You could get away with not picking the champion, however, by predicting three out of the four final-four teams or by picking all four correctly. Either way, do not throw out your bracket after the first weekend just because of a few bad losses.

DO: Watch the games. Nearly all sports fans would agree the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the best tournament in sports, so you do not want to miss out on the action even if you aren’t that big of a fan. There is no other tournament that involves more parity and more upsets than the NCAA tournament. The single-elimination style of the tournament brings a do-or-die feel to every game, and even the most unlikely of upsets can become possible with a lucky bounce here or there, or if one team gets hot at the right time. Outside of just the upsets, the level of play of the teams makes the games that much more exciting. With their season on the line, the players give everything they have during these tournament games and you can never count a team out.

DON’T: This is vital. Do not, under any circumstance, laugh at another person’s picks. This will come back to haunt you and you will look like an idiot when their predictions become true. There is something about March Madness that leaves even the smartest basketball fans perplexed, not knowing how they could be so wrong or how they didn’t see something coming. The aforementioned parity of the NCAA tournament allows for even the most nonsensical sports fans to be winners. And whether it’s basic karma or just the consistent luck of the draw, whenever you mock another person because of their picks, it will almost always come back to bite you.

There you have it. You now have the knowledge to experience the most enjoyable viewing experience of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and I wish you all the best of luck this year with your brackets.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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