Spring brings out the brackets, and the frustration
Ah, spring. This is the season that can tantalize one’s senses more than any other.
There’s the scent of new flowers exploding onto the scene. The sound of a ball cracking off a bat on a baseball or softball field. The touch of new grass as it bursts through the soil, and the tastes ... oh, the tastes! Just thinking about what’s going on that grill this spring is enough to get me to stand up, do a little dance and salivate all over myself as I ...
But I digress.
There are plenty of sights to choose from for me that symbolize spring — there are the leaves sprouting back to life on the trees, light jackets and sweaters replacing down coats and scarves, and my NCAA Tournament bracket falling to pieces quicker than NBC’s primetime lineup.
I grew up a huge fan of college basketball. In particular, I grew up a fan of the Maryland Terrapins, which made me an ardent follower of the ACC. Some of my best memories growing up involved watching Adrian Branch and Buck Williams at Cole Field House battling Duke and North Carolina, and seeing the best player I have ever witnessed in person, Len Bias, do his thing against other powers in the game.
If baseball was my favorite sport as a kid, and it most certainly was, then college basketball was second. Everything else just kept me busy until one of those seasons started again.
I don’t watch college basketball as much as I used to, and that’s for a variety of reasons. Life has a tendency to get in the way of watching sports as often as I once did and, like many others, football has become my main interest in the world of sports. The early defections of college players to the NBA has changed things for me, as well, as you just don’t get the opportunity to know the players and teams as much anymore, as they are off to the riches of pro ball before you really get used to them.
As such, I often go into these brackets with enough knowledge of the game to get myself in trouble. I know from watching ESPN and listening to talk radio who the good teams are, and I read enough articles to know who to watch, and who could surprise, but I just don’t watch enough games to really get to know which teams match up better against certain opponents.
For instance, I know Gonzaga is good this year, and they have a big, long-haired center who gets attention, but I really don’t know what they are good at, or what they struggle against. I’ve seen Duke play a couple times this year, and they’ve looked great to me one time, and very bad against Maryland a couple times. Does that mean they can’t win the tournament?
I have absolutely no clue.
The smart move, as I fill out these brackets, would be to just admit that I don’t know what I’m doing and either go off the advice of the “experts” in the field or just go “chalk” and pick the favorites to win every game. The people who follow this for a living, or decide the tournament rankings, watch way more college basketball than I do, and are paid to do it, so wouldn’t it just make sense to follow their lead?
Smart? Yes. What I’m actually going to do? No.
You see, cherished readers, I am an idiot. And what an idiot does is ignore things that make sense because his overinflated ego continues to convince him that he is smarter about nearly everything in the world than anybody else. And idiots don’t win a lot of bracket pools.
I lost a pool one year to a person who picked teams solely based on who was on the top line. I lost another to a person who copied ESPN’s Dick Vitale’s brackets from online and won the thing by a mile. I lost last year to ... everybody. Yup. Last place in the whole eight-person pool as I lost two of my Final Four teams in the first weekend of the tournament.
So, once again, I find myself awaiting the NCAA Tournament, and once again I’m pretty convinced I’ve unlocked the secret to a winning bracket through my half-sense of knowledge of the sport. I’ve got Michigan State, Georgetown, New Mexico and Indiana in my Final Four, with Indiana beating Michigan State in the championship game.
If you have those four teams in your own Final Four, do not feel good about your chances. But I promise we will suffer together.