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.
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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