Luck or Skill? The Brackets Are Back

One year, a woman I once worked with won the office March Madness pool. I remember that she came up to me with her bracket in hand, yet to be filled, and asked my opinion on who would win the tournament. She knew as much about basketball as Paris Hilton knows about quantum physics.

“Why would I tell you that?” I replied, “I am going to be in the same pool as you.” I was brash and confident, sure that at least there was one person in the office who I would beat in the pool. I smugly filled out my bracket and painfully watched over the next three weeks as my picks tanked and she swept the pool and won.

“How did you make your picks?” I asked her the day after the championship. Smiling slyly, she quipped, “I picked by which teams I thought had the most colorful nicknames.” Befuddled, I humbly congratulated her and gave her my best fake smile. I shuffled away muttering “colorful nicknames…colorful nicknames?…colorful nicknames!?!” under my breath. I have since recovered and still faithfully fill out my brackets each year. I have yet to win a pool that I have entered and I believe I am going on year number 25 of doing this.

That is kind of sad because I like to think of myself as a basketball connoisseur (some would call me a junkie, but they just don’t get it). Basketball is a terrific sport that combines the best of athleticism and intelligence. To be successful, you generally have to be fast, quick, able to jump high, have quick reflexes. In the game, the best players tend to react more than think, but their reactions come from knowledge and instinct. It is a beautiful way to socialize, despite playing with the occasional ball hog or poor sport. Not only that, but it is fun to watch. The action is fast and nearly nonstop. This all comes to a head every year during March Madness, the NCAA Division One Championship. It can turn anybody into a fan, even if only three weeks.

So here I am again, my bracket in front of me, staring at the names of 64 basketball teams and at my brilliantly thought out selections. Is my confidence any less after all of these years? No. Do I think this year, like every other, that I have this figured out? Yes. Of course this is my year. As they say, “Hope springs eternal”. I will admit, however, that I have a different strategy this year. I will not reveal it because I don’t want to give away a good secret like this.

As the tournament has already begun, I will reveal my final four. The teams include the Golden Lions (Arkansas PineBluff), the Big Red (Cornell), the Orange (Syracuse) and the Mean Green (North Texas).

With that, I wish you good luck on your brackets and I hope your research and preparation work out as well as mine will.

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