This past Sunday was known to all of sportskind as Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament for college basketball, and Thursday is the first day of round one, which is otherwise known as one of the best days of the year. Brackets got announced on Sunday, and everyone went nuts. Vegas started calling odds, ESPN went into a frenzy with coverage of everyone and everything attached to college basketball, Syracuse fans started drawing every comparison possible to our 2003 championship year to see if the stars are aligned for this year, and girls started looking at their boyfriends and wondering if their relationships will make it through March Madness.
However, if you’re hardly into sports, or basketball, or the mind-games of guessing who will win 32-16-8-4-2 and then 1 game, this month and bracketing (and life) is probably not much fun for you. If you’re a Syracuse only basketball fan, or have your head buried deep into the sand of the Big East and all their magical teams and players, you probably don’t get much info on what the rest of the country looks like for basketball. What does anyone really know about Indiana and what in the world is Sycamore and how do we beat it? If Cuse makes it to the Sweet Sixteen should we count out a possible match-up with UNC because we all KNOW that the ACC is weak this year? It’s enough to make you not want to fill out a bracket.
So why do people fill out brackets? Is there a chance you could fill out a flawless bracket? According to this bar bet happening in Philly the chances are 1 in 9 quintillion.
Instead it’s about the bragging rights of being more right than someone else, or winning the office pool and getting all the cash and glory. It’s about validating a year’s worth of watching hundreds of basketball games and knowing you were right about everything all along. Hell, I have a long standing bet with one friend from SU where we only win $1 every year and still agonize over the picks.
But HOW do you pick? If you’ve never filled out a bracket before, there’s no time like the present . You can go with the "tried and true" bracket math strategy of knowing that 33% of the time a 12 seed will beat a 5 seed, and then lose somewhere around the Sweet 16/Elite 8 rounds. Or that there’s a 22% chance a 13 seed will beat a 4 seed, and a 32% chance that a 11 seed will beat a 6 seed. Be conservative, pick a few upsets, and try not to put all 1 seeds in the Final Four since that’s only happened once. But with all betting odds, nothing’s set in stone.
If you’re totally clueless, but still want a piece of the office pool there’s always filling out this bracket based off of cutest mascot. Men and women alike use this strategy, but I highly suggest at least submitting a ballot with actual printed names and not telling anyone you picked based on cute animals. Be careful with picking Otto to go far - he’s damn cute and should win it all, but remember that the mascot is attached to an actual basketball team.
However you choose to pick – numbers, mascots, or just plain throwing darts while blindfolded and drunk, just do it. Absolutely no one really knows what they’re doing even if they say they do, and there’s usually some pretty great prizes out there to be had if you can manage to guess correctly. And ladies, if you’re doing this for the first time, office pools are intimidating, but I can personally tell you that there’s nothing better than watching an office full of dudes find out that they were schooled by a girl. Do what my roommate does since she doesn’t watch a game all year: have someone else fill it out for you – you take credit if you win, blame that person if you lose. Oh and a good place to start if you don’t want to do an office pool, go ahead and sign up for the TNIAAM Bracket Challenge. You have until Thursday morning to join in on the fun.