Monday, March 31, 2003

I filled out my NCAA brackets with scorn--how silly do you have to be to fill in your picks with any expectation that your forecast will resemble the crazy finishes and Cinderella teams that inevitably emerge once the ball is actually tipped?

Then I got excited as the first round fell into place approximately as I scribbled it would: I picked 13 seed Tulsa and 11 seed Central Michigan to win, and 11 seed Southern Illinois, which lost by a point. The only first round winners I missed were Butler, California, Missouri, Purdue, Oklahoma St., and Utah. My only Sweet 16 misses were Marquette, UConn, Butler, and Auburn. (Then it gets ugly--I got 5 of the Elite Eight, one of the Final Four, and o-fer from there on out.) This is disillusioning because I haven't followed college basketball as little as I did this year--not only that, but I had half as many wrong calls in the first round as a friend of mine who knows college hoops far better.

The unpredictability is one measure of the absurdity of NCAA pools. But so is the drama. We love buzzer beaters and the crazy hope that a sleeper school can put together a Final Four run. Without that guarantee of volatility, we wouldn't watch. So why exactly do we put our money on certainty?

Incidentally, now that the championship favorites have disappeared, I'm pulling for Kansas to win it all; Roy Williams is one of the best coaches, and best people, to have several championship-caliber teams over the last 15 years and no championships to show for it.

No comments: