Bernstein: If You Fill Out Multiple Brackets, You’re A Loser

By Dan Bernstein–

Don’t be that guy, this year.

We all hate him, the one shouting “I had that!” and strutting past cubicles when a four-seed loses to Buttcrack State on a flailing put-back. He’s making a show of circling the winner in red pen even before Gus Johnson has completed his series of calamitous, terrifying screams.

He only “had” it because he filled out six different brackets in three pools. He had to flip through a stack of papers before he even knew of his own, towering basketball genius.

Here’s the deal: anyone filling out anything more than one set of predicted outcomes forfeits the right to claim any kind of victory.

Submit your picks wherever — at the office, in that stupid thing you do every year with your idiot fraternity brothers, in some online mega-contest, but stay consistent. Otherwise, where’s the satisfaction?

Increasing the number of permutations strictly for a better chance of being “right” only sucks the fun out of the NCAA Tournament. Make an infinite amount of picks, and you’re a savant. Congrats.

What’s still so great about the next few weeks is that single sheet of paper, since no other event in sports can be carried around like this one. The tournament is 8 ½ X 11 (though some formatting creativity is tested, now, by added play-ins), and it can sit on your desk amid actual work, eased out of sight when need be.

Those picks are your picks. Some are right and some are wrong.

Sure, there’s something inherently fun about writing teams’ names in brackets. It feels right to march them toward the middle, winnowing down the field and filling an empty structure with before-the-fact content. I understand the irresistible pull of a pristine sheet dropped in front of you that’s just begging to be made whole and meaningful.

But, good god, man, having a total of 22 different Final Four teams defeats the purpose.

What’s really important to remember is that predictive success is no indication of how much you know about basketball, nor how dedicated a fan you may be. Your self-image and social standing as a hoop-head is not endangered by the upcoming randomness and chaos. In fact, it looks even worse when someone goes out of his way to hedge his picks and still ends up wrong.

Doris in HR won the pool two of the last three years, her streak interrupted only by the time it went to that odd guy in the mailroom who lost most of his parietal lobe in a motorboating accident.

Somebody every year lets a kid choose winners by mascot likability, a dog make choices by selecting food-bowl A or B, or a schizoid numerologist apply his global formula to the games that also, coincidentally, predicts great wealth for certain Pakistani tribesmen and analyzes your dreams.

That first list of pool entrants will be out on Monday afternoon. Whoever in is charge where you are will collect the submissions and fees, and catalog the names.

And there he’ll be, trust me. He always is. Gary1, Gary2, Gary3, etc.

He’s trying to show you how into all this he is, that this is his time of year, and he’s got it all covered. He went to that middle-tier ACC school, remember, so he knows basketball. He was there when that one team won that thing, he’ll remind you.

I’m rooting for Doris.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: If You Fill Out Multiple Brackets, Youre A Loser

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Follow Bernstein on Twitter, @dan_bernstein and read more of his blogs here.
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  • Denver Deadite

    Sorry, Bernstein, but kind of in ‘don’t really care’ mode right now. My day is dedicated to having the news on and trying to concentrate on work, the latter of which isn’t going well.

    My wife and I have family and friends scattered throughout the Pacific Rim, particularly in Hawaii. So, first thing upon waking up and hearing the news was getting news to make sure everybody was going to be ok.

    That all said, I just discovered a good friend of mine, working as a journalist in DC, will be at the White House with the Blackhawks today. I’m jealous.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Hang in there Deadite…you are a good guy.

    • Martin

      So you’re not in the mood to care about Bernstein’s article now because of other things on your mind… yet you proceeded to come to the website, find his column, probably read it, then comment on it anyways?

      • Denver Deadite

        Let me know when you find your point, because I think it’s lost.

        Hint: ‘off topic’ discussion happens all the time.

    • Pulseczar

      Geez, when did the content moderation police come out?


      For someone in a “in ‘don’t really care’ mode right now” you sure seem to give a damn, what with all the responding you have done and all.

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      Looks like Dan is in a “don’t really care” mode right now too. This article isn’t exactly news.

      This comments section is devoted to whatever the F you want to talk about. Keep doing what you do, Deadite. Hope everything is cool with your friends/family.

      • Denver Deadite

        Yep, all is good it seems.

        At least not everybody here today is suffering from Sandy Vag Syndrome.

      • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

        Lol, hillarious, Deadite

    • Mark, Sterling

      Sooooo you felt like sharing all of that on THIS article because……?

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap!!! Hey, Spanky is Mark! Good to know. (Ass-clown.)

      • Mike Murphy

        Wow, Deadlite, that’s a great story……..NOT!

      • Denver Deadite

        Soooooo you felt like being a bit of a dbag in response because… … ?

  • Pulseczar

    Hearing people talk incessantly about their stupid brackets is almost worse than hearing about peoples’ stupid fantasy teams.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Pulse- That is soooooo true. A lifetime ago I was advised by a Chicago sports personality that “nobody cares about your fantasy team but you”.

      I’ve always been a fantasy participant, done my share in pools, etc… but once a team is drafted or a pool is turned in, the only people with which I share my thoughts are those in the same league or pool.

      …And the worst part is that while I’ve taken that lesson to heart, nobody else has. I’m the token stat nerd in my circle of friends, and I’m bombarded with questions this time of year as to whether ‘State or ‘Tech is going further… and of course in the fall whether to take the best TE in the third, because “I just KNOW so-and-so is going to take him with the first pick in the fourth”…

      • bigtime sucker

        when is the tournament of bad? when does that start? the TOB bracket reveal is anually the funniest event of the year

      • Cameltoe Rancher

        I hate it when the guys I start in FF don’t even see the feild

      • Pulseczar

        At least March Madness only lasts a few weeks.

        Down hallways, in elevators, everywhere… hearing who people chose for the upset last night, what teams they have in the final 4 for each of their 5 brackets, etc. It’s more fun because everyone just assumes I have a bracket or seven too and can’t understand why I’m not getting swept up in March Madness with them.

        Watching games with FF players is torture. Every cut-to highlight or screen crawl is invitation to share what that means for dude’s FF team.

        The last Bears game I went to, (vs Bills 2006) the guy behind me was rooting for Travis Henry because he was on his FF team. Checking his phone for other player stats and telling everyone within earshot what his players were doing- cheering or groaning accordingly for players that weren’t even on the field.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        They said and I already forget, BTS – it was either Monday or Tuesday (I think Monday.)

  • kaufmak

    I haven’t watched college basketball in years, but I still fill out a bracket, with Duke as the winner every year. I can’t make it any easier to follow than that.

  • Mark, Sterling

    Bernsie has been on a ROLL this week!

  • TenFootMidget

    Just another reason we must dispatch of Gary from Evanston in a secret location.

    • bigtime sucker

      here’ s irony for you, look to the right of your screen, right now!!!

  • Gentleman RaRa

    Bernstein is right. The only tournament anybody should give a damn about is the Tournament of Bad.

    My pick this year is The Callers Who Call the Les Grobstein Show

    • bigtime sucker

      what about charlie sheen

    • Murphfan1138

      He must think the callers who call Les Grobstein are idiots because they actually get to finish their comments without interruption unlike the B&B show.

  • Chitownduck

    Damn, so does this also include the Tournament of Bad because its been another good year for bad and I have several potential winners?

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    If Buttcrack State gets wedged into a 13-seed this year Bernsie, it’s because they didn’t tap that potential. They got spanked and smacked around by teams late when they could have just sat on a lead.

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    I just read an article that points out that there are over 9 quintillion (that’s six commas) distinct options for filling out an NCAA bracket (and that’s based on a 64 team field, I guess there are more now).

    I understand the spirit of this blog. When I was in high school everybody filled out brackets and stuck to them as a matter of honor. When our typically half-in-the-bag American History teacher picked Arizona (’95ish maybe) he was a minor celebrity for about a week. This was in a basketball obsessed town and the accuracy of one’s bracket said something about your value as a human, it wasn’t about winning a little cash.

    Anyway, just takes Gary’s sixty bucks and let him have his three bloody brackets.

  • Pulseczar

    When there’s money at stake, people tend not to care so much about how loser-ish they’re being.

    I’ve still never filled out a bracket. I also haven’t followed NCAA basketball in almost 20 years though. If I’m putting money up, it won’t be for something in which I have no interest or knowledge.

    • Chris in Scottsdale


      Just think of it as a roulette spin that lasts at least a full weekend :)

  • Mike in Milwaukee

    Where is my buddy Horse today?

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      Hope he wasn’t put out to pasture! (Probably just retrieving the Manometer for next Thursday…)

      • Larry Horse's Arse


  • kev in skokie

    “Make an infinite number of picks and you’re a savant”

    Worked for Nostrdamus?

  • Pulseczar

    The title of this entry made me think of the hockey boobs getting you’re/your wrong when calling DB gay.

    “Der, Burnstine— if you don’t like multiple brackets, your gay!”

  • Dragline's Beer Belly

    @ Midget, I am all for that. Haha. @Pulseczar, There all gay!


    If I filled out one of those NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets, I would be lucky to have 1 bracket full of winners, let alone multiple sheets. Even though the overall college basketball product is down this year and I’m scratching my head why the NCAA decided to expand the field from 65 to 68 teams, I will give credit where credit is due. Even before TruTV officially tips off the field Tuesday night with what’s now called the “First Four” instead of the stupid play-in game where the “winner” would face the #1 overall seed, the NCAA Basketball Tournament does provide plenty of exciting drama and the kind of reality TV that makes it very unique. Let the Madness begin!

  • M. Leigh

    If you listened to Bernstine yesterday you heard one of his favorite ploys when loosing an argument to a caller from Arizona. He started calling the guy a liar about numerous comments. Of course all Mr. debate 101 was trying to do was upset the guy and get him off track. Nice try Burntime but didn’t work

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      Here’s a ploy M. Leigh: get a bit better grammatically and maybe people will take you seriously. Spanky was an asshat.

    • Chris in Scottsdale


      The guy from Arizona was an idiot. He completely disregarded Bernstein’s comment -and how it was NOT a slam on Arizona- and started to babble incoherently anyways.

      Besides, if the guy is indeed 42 and living in Sedona, he’s one of three things:

      1) A ridiculously rich already-retired tycoon
      2) A waiter or retail clerk trudging through life
      3) A hippie- which Bernsie called him out on.

      Besides, Bernstein is right- “Statehood pride” is a bit asinine. Do Chicagoans really take pride in what happens in Illinois south of I-80? I didn’t feel Chicago love when I lived in Rockford, that’s for sure. I know that here in Maricopa County that we could give two squats about anything that happens in Tucson -UNLESS it happens to be a tragedy of such magnitude as the Loughner shooting.

  • Murphs Upper-Lip

    This sight is quite often efted up, but what is going on today??? If someone tried to read these posts right now they wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of them! Everything is so out of place it appears the damn chimp has taken over again!

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      …would “efd” up be the proper slang I was looking for? Looking at it now I think I like that better than “efted.”

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        I usually say, effed-up.

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        I’m a tan man, and an effed-man. F’d also acceptable. I also appreciate the way you handled M. Leigh up therem, M-U-L. Kudos.

  • bigtime sucker

    LHA SPEAK TO ME, what does decertification mean, how can a trade association protect players ? what can suing the NFL do to expedite a new contract. can players now play without a contract? i need answers

    folks, will there be NFL football this year
    will there be GOOD nfl football this year
    i am afraid not at least for the bears all that time that cutler and receivers needs to spend with Martz, gone
    all that time OLINEMEN need to spend with Tice, GONE
    we will have to rely on our defense like never before, i sure hope they stay in shape!!!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      This is a mess bts.
      I’ll try to do my best off the top of my head.
      1. The National Labor Relations Board (created in 1935) “certifies” labor organizations (the technical name for unions). They do so either by majority vote of the employees or by management agreeing to recognize a certain labor organization to represent a certain bargaining unit. In this case, the applicable bargaining unit is just players because they have unique interests.
      2. How do employees “get rid” of a union that has been certified to represent them in any situation? Through the same sort of NLRB process: an election to decertify or to keep the union, or other evidence…here I believe that the NFLPA staged a sort of ritual NLRB-suicide by having unanimous votes to decertify team-by-team and that such evidence has been presented to the NLRB. In essence they are taking the unusual step of saying to the NLRB, “remove from us the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended” we shall go forward and be a union like things were <1935.
      3. The NFL is very vulnerable to antitrust charges. You might remember that the USFL won an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL something like 25 years ago, in which the USFL proved that the NFL was an unlawful monopoly…but because they failed to prove economic damages, their award was $3 in nominal damages. In an anti-trust lawsuit, the players are quite able to show damages because they can show lost wages.
      4. On Monday when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and etc. etc. show up for work (at least a couple of representative plaintiffs from each team to form the class of the class action) they will be "locked out" by the owners. The players will then sue. The NFLPA will then be a "voluntary" organization to which players pay dues, and not a certified labor organization…almost the same status as the Knights of Columbus or American Medical Association!
      5. Key here is that the historic jurisdiction for NFL litigation is held by US District Judge Doty in Minnesota…..and he has spanked the NFL numerous times.
      6. In theory, teams could sign individuals to individual service contracts…but none of the stars would want to be a "scab". So that just will not happen. Sorta like the Screen Actors Guild…the multi-million dollar stars are vastly outnumbered by scale bit players in SAG and yet the stars toe the union line as well (they want to avoid post-strike backlash from SAG and from the public).
      7. For one year, Trace Armstrong was our neighbor (when he was still playing, this was when he was with the Dolphins) and I learned a lot from him as well.

      • Larry Horse's Arse


        Sooner Boomer!

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        I took some courses at the University of Oklahoma in their School of Meteorology with a Max Pressure.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Max pressure NFLPA can bring is to leave this up to Judge Doty.
        Max pressure NFL can bring is to cut off pay because so many players are living way too high on the hog…they are from the Tiki Barber School of Personal Finance.

        Both sides will continue to negotiate, I’m sure with the Mediator and will eventually cut a deal in good time. When, I have no idea.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        That helps a lot LHA – thanks.

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