When folks ask me if I filled out a March Madness bracket I always say no. I respond that way because it is 100% accurate, I choose not to go through the annual prognostication exercise of filling one out. However my reasons for not doing so go beyond NCAA regulations. As I mentioned in a recent post because I work in an intercollegiate athletics department I am forbidden from participating in any bracket competition where anything of value is at stake. This includes anything from a free dinner in a bet with a few of my friends to Warren Buffet’s $1,000,000,000 bracket challenge.
So what is stopping me from filling out a bracket just for the fun of it? Nothing, really. If I wanted to I could spend an evening penciling in six different brackets like many of my friends do. But I choose not to for various reasons, including:
I don’t know the teams in the field well enough. I don’t pay an adequate amount of attention to the college basketball landscape during the year to properly make decisions on the 67 total games that are played throughout the NCAA Tournament. I just don’t feel comfortable basically taking a wild guess on who would win a game between George Washington and Memphis. Not only did I not watch a single minute of the regular season of any of those two teams I also couldn’t tell you a single player or coach on either squad. I don’t like flipping a coin to determine which team should advance.
I hate the work that comes from maintaining a bracket and the blacked out disarray that results from it. Not only is putting streaks through my wrong predictions bad enough but the unreadable, sharpie soaked paper my bracket becomes confuses me on which teams are actually still alive in the tourney. Nothing is worse than when your Final Four team busts out in the second round and you got to scratch them out through the next several rounds. I rather watch over a blank bracket and fill it in as the action unfolds so that I have a clear picture of what is going on in the tournament rather than trying to decipher what is going on over my badly predicted sheet.
I also have a thing with being wrong over and over again. Like I said, I plead ignorance when it comes to superior knowledge of college basketball. Because of that I know if I fill out a bracket I am going to make wrong decisions…a lot. Instead of getting mad and ashamed about my terrible picks I rather just watch the tournament games in peace with no pressure. I prefer to watch a game and appreciate it for its unique twists and turns rather than stressing out over a random team I want to win solely because I made an uninformed decision picking them.
Another reason I decide to pass on filling out a bracket is I tire of telling people who I have going to the Final Four, which #12 seeds I have pulling an upset, and who my dark horse is to win it all. Going back to what I have said throughout this post I just feel unqualified to make such decisions so when people ask me these questions I feel like I am just spewing B.S. by answering them. Also, I will admit that in the years past when I have filled out brackets I commonly forgot who I chose as my Final Four, making myself feel very embarrassed when asked to state my picks. I also like to avoid the people who want to chastise my decisions or engage in needless debate.
Finally, I am lukewarm to the whole idea of filling out a bracket just because nothing is at stake for me. I stand to gain nothing. There are no consequences for my disastrous picks or reward for if I ever got incredibly lucky and managed to submit a decent bracket. To me, filling out a bracket “just for the heck of it” is a waste of time.
After the first day of the tournament (third day if you count the First Four games) I hope you are in the 0.4% of perfect brackets still out there. I think we were treated to some great basketball today and best of all I got to sit on my couch and watch all the evening games in comfort and free of stress. Can’t wait until tomorrow’s action. Don’t Blink.