Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March's Maddening Madness

Ah, the magical month of March - Spring is once again upon us, and we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the season in which a young man's fancy turns to love… and basketball. Also, gambling. Anyway, the brackets have once again been set, and every man in a semi-illegal office pool is rearing for the Madness to begin. Unfortunately, the gap between Selection Sunday and the round of 64 is excruciating - not just because we just want the damn tournament to start, but mainly because talking heads spend an excruciating amount of time talking about who won’t be playing in the round of 64.

Look, I understand that teams get snubbed. Really, I do. But how much time needs to be devoted to this subject? Is ESPN really still discussing the absence of Syracuse and Drexel? The subject needs about 10 minutes of coverage, but instead you get to hear throngs of analysts ramble on about the snubtastic snubbing of snubby the snubbity snub. This time next year - not to mention next week - about 5 people will remember who got screwed out of a tournament spot, so let’s save the outrage for a subject we might actually care about in two weeks.

Even more ridiculous is ESPN’s notion that they’re providing us, the amateur bracketologists, with key analysis of the upcoming tournament. “Stay tuned to Sportscenter so we can reveal the secrets that will help you win your office pool!” You mean in case the rest of my office hasn’t heard of ESPN or Sportscenter? I’m so privileged to be the only one in the whole country receiving these insider tips!

Let’s take a look at some expert advice on who to take to your final four! A compilation of 19 experts final four picks (available at faniq.com) breaks down like so:

Midwest: 19 Florida

West: 8 Kansas, 9 UCLA, 1 So. Ill, 1 VA Tech

East: 6 UNC, 11 Georgetown, 2 Texas

South: 6 Ohio St, 2 Memphis, 9 Texas A&M, 2 VA, 1 Louisville

An astounding 6 teams make up some 90% of experts final four picks… meaning that the super top secret picks of the experts will probably give you the same Final Four as every other shmoe in your office. Say hello to the middle of the pack, baby!

OK, so the experts see similar things in the end run of the tournament, meaning you need to shine early on in the brackets to have a shot, right? So not only do I keep the channel on ESPN, I find myself perusing 3 different websites in order to properly absorb the wisdom of the experts for the opening rounds. Of course, now the problem is that all 3 billion “experts” have a different take on who to take and why to take them. Fantastic. So, essentially, I just spent time trying to glean extra information in order to further confuse the hell out of myself when filling out a bracket.

There is such thing as information overload, and that’s exactly what the start of the tournament is all about. So what’s the take home point? No one knows what they’re talking about. Period. This is precisely why the random guy (or gal) in your office who knows nothing about college basketball and chooses winners based on mascots will win your office pool. So prepare for a letdown.

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