If I devoted as much time and energy to studying in college as I do in filling out my March Madness brackets, I would of graduated Magna Cum Laude instead of Praise The Lord-e. Chugging a combination of Mountain Dew and Red Bull in order to stay awake, I was the guy hunkered down in the computer lab at 4 in the morning just starting his introduction statement for the 12 page paper due for my 8 o’clock philosophy class. Procrastination pretty much summed up my work ethic while in school.
However, the complete opposite is true when it comes to my dedication towards March Madness. Only a few minutes after the brackets are announced I begin racking my brain over matchups, statistics and data. I scour rosters looking for teams with solid guard play and senior leadership. Going into my man cave (okay, the living room once the girls are in bed), I break down game film that would make Dean Smith and Bobby Knight proud.
For some strange reason, around this time of year I pay extra close attention to Disney Princess movies just in case it gives me an edge in picking this year’s Cinderella. The internal debate rages on over which team’s bandwagon I should jump on and ride to the finals and which wagon I should avoid at all cost because it is going to break an axle ala The Oregon Trail by losing in the second round of the tourney. Instead of sleeping at night, I toss and turn pondering sleepers. After all, who needs shut eye when bragging rights around the water cooler are hanging in the balance?
There is a fine line between over thinking things and being knowledgeable. Sadly, my head always seems to overpower my gut. Most years the hours of studying result in me being nowhere close to feeling secure in my picks. The problem that arises from cramming your noggin with data is that it can be skewed to make it say whatever you want. This causes my indecisiveness to kick into overdrive. I fill out bracket after bracket after different bracket.
With fifty or so brackets in hand, one would assume this would be the end to the silly charade of proving my basketball I.Q. Anyone else in their right mind would be tying up loose ends by making sure they have Buffalo Wild Wings on speed dial and practicing their best phlegm cough so they can call in sick Thursday and Friday in order to watch the opening round games. However, my lack of self-control finds me heading over to popular sports websites like ESPN and CNNSI to see how my picks line up with the “talking heads.” After all these years, I haven’t the slightest clue why I still listen to “experts” (I use this term very loosely) like Jay “Flip Flop” Bilas, Dick Vitale, Andy Katz and Digger Phelps. I am convinced that on top of being members of the sports media they all have side jobs as used car salesman. Somehow they can make their bracket appear like it is top of the line when chances are good all they are offering is a clunker. Yet, if their selections differ from mine even in the slightest bit, it means yet another bracket is created.
All of the blood, sweat, tears and heartburn I experiencing during March Madness is in hopes of achieving the elusive perfect bracket. It is similar to the quest for the Holy Grail as many have told stories about knowing a friend of a friend of a former college roommate who pulled it off, yet no one has ever seen concrete proof that sheet ever existed. Just for giggles, I decided to do a little research on the math behind the madness that comes with trying to reach perfection with your bracket. Here is some information I found from the American Institute of Physics, you know since the average physicist is concerned over who is going to come out on top in the 5 vs. 12 matchup:
Since there are 64 games and two possible outcomes for each game-a win and a loss-the number of possible outcomes for the tournament is a staggering 2 to the power of 64–2 multiplied by itself 64 times–or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 if you want to spell it out. With that many possibilities, every man, woman, child and baby on the planet could fill out 2.8 billion brackets–each of them completely unique–and still not exhaust the possibilities. Forget about winning for a moment. How about writing out all the possibilities? Even if you could write all your predictions for one bracket in one second, it would take over 500 billion years to write all the possibilities–much longer than the age of the universe. If you could get a billion close friends to help you and each of them could fill in one bracket per second, then you would be done in about 500 years–the 26th century.
Even though it is pretty obvious that luck plays a significant role in winning your office pool, I see filling out brackets as a challenging to my manhood. The beauty of March Madness is that everyone loves the possibility of telling everyone else that they were right. Even the 75-year-old secretary loves to gloat about picking George Mason to go to the Final Four back in 2006. What Beatrice neglects to tell you is that she only picked GMU due to her bad eyesight and thinking it said Perry Mason, which was one of her favorite TV shows back in the 60’s.
Now that I’ve decided to fill out a single bracket this year, I am contemplating throwing all caution to the wind and utilizing these kooky techniques some use in picking out their winners. I could go with the best names in college basketball approach. If I do then that means I am praying for a deep run for Wake Forest (Al-Farouq Aminu meaning ‘The Chief Has Come’) and Michigan State (Idong Ibok). When faced with a tough matchup, I might force the Mascots to throw down MMA style by entering the Octagon for a fight to the death. This technique will only be used as a last resort because it does not bode well for my Maryland Terps considering their first round opponent is the Cal Bears. Chances are good Yogi and Boo-Boo would be enjoying some turtle soup as an appetizer. Considering I live in the hotbed of ACC country, the “D’Oh! Factor” or better known as the “Reverse Homer” pick should be used to give me a leg up on the competition. This means the Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tarheels are out as champs on my bracket as everyone and their mother will have them cutting down the nets in the pools I enter.
I wish I could say how freeing it will be only have one bracket to worry about over the next 3 ½ weeks. But, in actuality my stress level is at an all time high knowing once my bracket is busted it is busted for good. What if my gut lets me down this time? Should I go with my heart or my head? What if God forbid, my mom, Jenn or even my 4-½ year old daughter Madison comes out on top? After attempting to get over the shame and embarrassment, I’ll throw out the physicist’s card. Since they spent more time studying in college then I did, I can trust those smart physicists know what they are talking about when they say the only thing you can count on during the tourney is the pure unpredictability of it all. Let the Madness begin!
DON’T FORGET TO JOIN THE 30 TO CURE 30 MARCH MADNESS BRACKET CHALLENGE.
Follow this link to join (the necessary info is found below):
Group ID #42855
Password: 30 To Cure 30
**DON’T FORGET – Be sure to complete your brackets before registration closes at tip off of the first game of Round 1 on Thursday, March 19**