A shocking approach to bracketology.

Out of all the sports in the world, I probably know or care about basketball the least.
Well, that’s not all true. I know less about lacrosse and care less about golf.

What I do know is this: every year, something called “March Madness” happens. The finale of it actually occurs in April, which confounds me every time I think about it. There are a lot of basketball games involved, and people fill out brackets and then compare their brackets and then wig out when one team loses and ruins their bracket.

Last year, I dipped my toe into the bracket frenzy. I filled one out. And I did alright… all the way through the Sweet Sixteen, after which I got bored. Somewhere between the Final Four and the actual championship game, J sat me down and said, “we have to catch this up… now!” He then attacked my paper with a pen, drawing slashes through names and circling other ones like a madman. I sat beside him and smiled and nodded (as I do so often now when sports are involved), and then jumped up and went to do something more interesting.

This year, I decided that since our TV will be constantly turned to basketball games for the next couple of weeks, I might as well stick my whole foot into the water.
I would fill out a bracket, and put effort into it!

So, J printed our brackets out. He brought them home. We sat down at the kitchen table, and I began using my highly scientific approach to filling out my very own personal winning bracket.

“J, what is this team’s mascot?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s the Wichita State Shockers… playing the VCU Rams.”
“Shockers” was by far the coolest name. So they went on my bracket.

“J, where is Gonzaga?”
“On the west coast somewhere.”
Who cares? Gonzaga sounds like a far cooler place than West Virginia. They won, in my book.

I’ve been to Louisville, and I like it a lot. They definitely beat Davidson.
Marquette is a really cool name… it sounds like a really fancy dessert. I wrote them down.
Georgetown Hoyas? What on earth is a Hoya? I looked it up. Their mascot seems to be a bulldog. I pointed out how illogical this is.

“Well,” said J, “The Ole Miss Rebels have a bear for a mascot.”
“And the Alabama Crimson Tide has an elephant,” I reasoned.
“Exactly!” he said. “And they all have stories behind them, I’m sure. Except the rebel-bear thing. There’s not a story there. And Auburn has both an eagle and a tiger. I don’t know what’s going on with that.”

The Hoyas went on my bracket.

I worked my way through it steadily, asking J’s opinion occasionally on who he thought would win a match-up… so he could feel included, of course.

“You’re lucky,” he told me. “You can just fill out the bracket and not even care about who wins. You don’t know stuff about basketball already, so you don’t have any previous knowledge to affect your decisions. It’s much less stressful for you than it is for me.”

J has been updating me all day on how my bracket is looking so far. “You’re doing alright,” he told me. “But the rams beat your shockers.”
I was aghast. “Why didn’t they just shock them to death?” I asked. “That’s what I was counting on.”
He looked at me like I’d grown a third arm.

As of now, I have lost about 8 of my games. I don’t know if that’s good or bad… I don’t know which games they were, or when they were played today, or what the scores were. I do know that J said my bracket stinks… but he also said his bracket stinks. He may just be trying to psych me out… he can’t accept that I am far more knowledgeable about bracketology (I don’t care what dictionary.com says, bracketology is a word). I can’t blame him, really. It must be hard to have your thunder stolen out from under you like that.

*EDIT: J just informed me that I have actually only lost three games. My system has just proven even more effective than even I knew!


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