(CBS) I suck. Those of you who take the time to type comments on columns on the Internet—pardon me, “articles,” to use your term—know that already. But when it comes to filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket, I really suck.
In fact, by my recollection I have never won a damn dime from my annual pool picks. Seriously, never. I came close in high school when I was in the lead and just needed the heavily-favored Duke Blue Devils to knock off the Connecticut Huskies. That didn’t happen, and I went from first place to, like, 12th because I hadn’t yet learned to hate Duke and cursed the TV at the restaurant where I was bussing tables and offended customers more than usual and got yelled at by my manager when my friends kept calling the place to make fun of me. To this day I want Khalid El-Amin to get trapped in an abandoned refrigerator.
Now this time of year a lot of writers will get you to click on their work by promising you secrets and tips to picking a winning bracket. Want a tournament secret from me? Okay. I don’t know where Bucknell is. A tip? Don’t follow what I do. For example, I’m picking a 16 seed to win a game this year.
Yes, you read that correctly. And why the hell not?
“Picking a 16 seed plays to your Cinderella fantasies, yes, but it also borders on insanity—like betting on Cinderella not only to win the Prince’s heart but also to seize the mixed martial-arts championship.” Oh, really, Wall Street Journal? Well, last time I checked, I have yet to cause a Great Depression outside of when I told my dad I planned on majoring in Theatre in college, so excuse me if I don’t take your bracket etiquette as gospel.
“Don’t pick a No. 16 seed to beat a #1 seed. It’s never happened. ” It’s never happened, J.P. Murrietta of Eyewitness News 4 in New Mexico? With that attitude, why have hopes or dreams ever? You know, they told Jackie Robinson that no black people would ever play in the Major Leagues. It’s thinking like yours that keeps racism alive. I just witnessed that.
Allow me to explain my ir-rationale. This field is one of the most toss-up groups the tournament has ever produced. I asked 670 The Score’s Adam Hoge, who actually attended a media mock selection committee in Indianapolis about a month ago and knows more about college hoops than me, about how difficult the selection process was this year, and he asked how I got his number and hung up. Anyway, this group of teams provides more uncertainty than I can remember there ever being.
And that includes the top seeds. Has there ever been a less frightening group of 1 seeds than Louisville, Gonzaga, Indiana, and Kansas? There just isn’t a “John Calipari’s pack of professionals are going to crush everyone” feel to any of them or any sort of “will (whatever two teams) end up clashing in the Final Four?” sort of buzz this year.
Speaking of Calipari, his Kentucky Wildcats lost in the first round of the NIT to Robert Morris Tuesday night. It might not be a 16 over a 1, but it is a lowest seed over a top seed. It’s still Robert Morris beating Kentucky. This college basketball year has been completely odd.
Consider, too, the curse of the number one team in the country this season. I don’t so much believe that there is some cosmic force working against top teams this year as I do there just being a lack of pure dominance this year.
Nate Silver says there’s a mathematical chance of a 16 winning, and Nate Silver elected President Obama, and President Obama fills out a tournament bracket each year. Boom! Science, folks.
What more perfect storm to roll the dice on the unthinkable then? After having failed to even pass the GED exam for bracketology, I’m willing to take the ultimate gamble. And if I’m going down, I’m going down with serious balls (or dementia) this year. But with which matchup?
Number one overall seed Louisville? Head coach Rick Pitino perhaps portentously agreed with me after his Cardinals won the Big East tournament. “I think this could be the year a 16 beats a 1,” Pitino said. “It could happen. If it’s gonna happen, it would be this year because there’s no No. 1 that’s dominant.” If a future Hall of Fame coach is agreeing with me, something weird has to happen, and I don’t mean getting-extorted-for-having-sex-with-a-crazy-lady-in-the-back-of-a-restaurant weird either.
Gonzaga, the best record of the four top seeds, lost at home to Illinois! That’s at least like a 15 beating a 2. And they have to take on a hot Southern University team that started its season going 4-6 before a 19-3 tear the rest of the way.
The state of Kansas is due serious karma for Brown v. Board of Education, the evolution hearings, and the salary of deep-fried infants that Mark Mangino was paid while coaching there. Losing to a 16 seed would certainly be adequate payment for all that.
Indiana is coming off a double-digit loss in the Big Ten tournament to Wisconsin after losing at home by nine to Ohio State earlier this month. They’ve shown an inability to handle elite status, and if they run into LIU-Brooklyn in their first game, that could be a problem, as the Blackbirds are fifth in the country in scoring at 79.5 points a game. The Hoosiers are 5-3 when allowing 70 or more points this season.
I haven’t yet decided which of the mighty shall fall (my bracket doesn’t have to be turned in until Thursday morning), but I’m banking on one to do so. With everyone else’s brackets—after painstaking research—going to end up like Swiss cheese anyway, this is the year for the biggest risk in sports gam… entertainment purposes only.
And with my luck a 16 will finally beat a 1. And with my luck it will be in one of the matchups I don’t choose.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.