Column by Austin Cannon
Dayton beat Ohio State 60-59 in the first real game of the tourney (I don’t count play-in games) and my bracket had lost one of its Elite Eight teams.
I rolled my eyes, but I failed to suppress a grin. It was part exasperation, part happiness that the tournament had started with such a great upset. I wasn’t really surprised that my bracket was already garbage.
(Side note: Big thanks to Drake for doing us basketball fans a huge solid and scheduling spring break over the first weekend of the tournament. Almost makes up for that tuition increase.)
I didn’t expect to have the perfect bracket. I have a better chance of visiting the moon in my underwear. But I did want it to be at least mostly right, for once.
As you can see above, that wasn’t the case. My Elite Eight is a wasteland. (OK, that Creighton pick wasn’t the best. Dougie McBuckets has a superpower for making the ball go in the net, but he’s hopeless at making his team play defense.)
The bracket obsession has reached an unprecedented level in this country.
People enter money office pools, bust out giant whiteboards and pour over Nate Silver’s projections, trying to predict the unpredictable.
Many people fill out multiple brackets, picking the best one to refer to as “my bracket.” Those other low-percentage ones need not apply.
I only filled out one this year because I wanted to enjoy the games without worrying about my picks.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to see how close I can get to perfect, but I don’t want to resent a historic, tournament-altering upset just because I had the losing team in the Final Four.
While not nearly as extreme, I’m similar to the guys who get vasectomies the day before the tournament starts so they have an excuse to skip work and watch all the games. I don’t want to miss anything. Again, thanks, Drake.
In many ways, the first day upsets were a blessing. I didn’t have to care about my bracket anymore.
I could sit back and enjoy the despicable Blue Devils and hated Jayhawks fall to higher seeds.
The only real sadness I felt during the tournament so far was Wichita State lost to Kentucky. The Shockers are great basketball team. Historically great. They had the hardest path to the Final Four and lost to a talent-oozing No. 8 Kentucky team that was the preseason No. 1 team. And it was an absolute classic game.
My point is this: This tournament has been out-of-its-mind good. No need to spoil it with a bracket.
By all means, gun for Warren Buffet’s billion dollars, but you need to realize that you’ll need a time machine to have any real shot at it. Just sit back and enjoy the heavenly amount of basketball (with extra remote batteries nearby).
Of course, I write this now, and next year some guy who picked the teams based on mascots will have the perfecto and the cool billion. Whatever.