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March 19, 2013
You're probably doing it right now. So are your co-workers, brothers, sisters, parents, math teacher, the bagger you know at the grocery store, the neighbor you only know as the lady with five cats.
Filling out an NCAA tournament bracket takes more time out of your day than you probably care to admit. Imagine what it's like for those of us who cover a college basketball team for a living.
This year's field may be more agonizing to dissect and predict than any other. Seemingly every week, one top-five team was taken down and a student section flooded the floor. So if you watched as many college basketball games as your cable package allowed, you're probably overloaded with information to the point where you're thinking, "What does this all mean?!"
But there is no way to study and pass this test you will surely fail, as will the rest of the country.
Out there, someone is looking at the No. 6 UCLA-No. 11 Minnesota draw in the South and quickly dismissing the Bruins, who will be without Jordan Adams after the freshman broke his foot in the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinals. Out there, someone just read that for the first time and scrapped their pick.
And it's that kind of information that many people are researching endlessly. Who is healthy? Which teams are on a hot streak? Who stumbled into the field?
You also have the "trendy pickers." This person has eight to 10 double-digit seeds winning on the first day (sorry, I refuse to recognize the First Four as the first day). They also will take Ole Miss deep into the tournament, solely because Marshall Henderson is the badass who embodies what March Madness and raw emotion are all about. This person will make sure the bracket has at least one Cinderella in the Elite Eight, solely because "it's what happens every year" - or, that's what they will tell you. They will look at the past champions and find out that every Maui Invitational participant with a head coach under 55 but missed the tournament the previous year is a lock.
That person just looked it up to see if it was true.
There also are the people in denial. These people will stick with their team and swear that this is the year. Hey, with the way the season has played out thus far, it could be anybody's year. This person will have Memphis in the Final Four despite the signs that are pointing to an early exit, possibly as soon as the matchup with either Middle Tennessee State or Saint Mary's in the round of 64.
Then there are the "eliminators." These people will look at a team's loss from early on in the season, a loss that never should have happened in 100 simulations, and automatically rule them out as a national champion. Think: Kansas falling to TCU or Michigan losing to Penn State.
Good luck doing that this year, though.
Also out there are the people who loathe mid-majors. They are screaming to the mountain tops about Gonzaga's No. 1 seed. This person still does not give credit to the work Brad Stevens has put in at Butler, which is looking for a third Final Four appearance in four years.
You also have the gamblers. They are looking for the right mix of upsets and favorites to cash in on a five-team parlay at the sportsbook this weekend in Las Vegas. They also will hedge their bets, pretty much picking against themselves in an attempt to make sure one ticket hits and a quick payday is coming . They also have five brackets and have entered every $1 million promotion on the Internet.
And then there those who drive us insane. In 15 minutes, they have made all their picks based on anything from team colors to mascot to player names to best-looking cheerleaders, players and coaches. Anything as irrelevant as the way a team name sounds will cause this person to eliminate a school. They will ask their children whether a Bulldog looks like a nice pet.
There also are those I like to call the "logical pickers." They like to treat every matchup as its own - which is probably the only sane idea - and not decide who should reign as national champion because of the name of the front of the jersey. These people take guard play, head coaches, veteran leadership - everything into account.
Round by round, game by game, they try to think it through and sincerely decide who should win. Deep down inside, they know that the kid who has never watched a second of basketball in his life will end up with a better bracket.
Those people end up with a national champion they probably do not feel comfortable with.
Hi, how's it going. Sorry, Michigan.
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor
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