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March 21, 2013 8:10 am

The Sports Guy: I’m going mad

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We have arrived, again, at that point of the year where everyone stares bleary eyed at statistics, throws darts at a wall, flips a coin or otherwise employs their method of preference to fill in all those little lines on the NCAA tournament bracket for the sake of bragging rights amongst their friends. Considering all the time some folks spend, it’s a darn good thing nobody actually tries to make money off the deal or whole offices might shut down.

I hate the NCAA tournament. Not because of the hype surrounding it. Quite the contrary, despite the damage that early entries to the NBA have cause the sport, college basketball’s pinnacle event remains the most exciting sporting event of the whole year.

No, faithful reader, my dislike for March Madness is much simpler. As a sports editor, I am presumed to know what’s going on amidst all those bracket lines. Yet, despite that, I remain the sports editor who has never — not once — won an NCAA tournament office pool of any flavor.

Considering I can probably count on one hand the number of complete non-Wyoming college games that I’ve watched on television this year, I don’t need to look into my crystal ball to see that’s probably not going to happen.

My bracket probably looks closer at home to the 1993 national tournament — I picked Duke to win, after all. And I’m guessing that was probably my selection back in ‘93 as well.

I have also, for a number of years, resorted to a random method — anything from literally flipping a coin to simulating the entire tournament on a Playstation — to fill out a bracket. It’s kind of the mark of shame in any pool that I enter. You’re not truly bad at bracketology until you’ve been beaten by Randal’s Randomness.

Last year, randomness performed better than my painstaking analysis. You may now snicker.

Thus, in an effort to defend my honor, I returned to the scene of last year’s random bracket — an online site run by Fox called WhatifSports. Their computer simulation allows you to match up pretty much any two Division I basketball teams from the past decade and pair them up in mock competition. It’s a great way to kill time at the office — and by killing time at the office, I mean perform painstaking computer research on behalf of my readers.

The sacrifices one must make.

This year’s random bracket, I suspect, will make many hang their heads in shame of being bested by a machine. It picks Kansas to defeat Ohio State as the national champion — a matchup that very easily could be correct. Of course, it also throws a few bones to its human underlings — its simulated bracket for me sends No. 1 seed Indiana packing in Round 2 and also has 15-seed Pacific pulling a monster upset in the first round.

Just in case the latter of those actually happens, be sure you remember where you read it first.

It has fourth seeded Syracuse reaching the Final Four for me. It also placed 10th-seeded Cincinnati into the Final Four — a selection that seemed to defy logic, but which might be anchored in the fact the computer servers are housed in, you guessed it, Cincinnati.

Talk about home-field advantage!

Of course, that doesn’t explain the whole Pacific thing. Or the computer’s love of New Mexico State.

Still, that Kansas-Ohio St. final looks extremely realistic this season. We’ll see how things go as the tournament plays out in the weeks ahead. So to my fellow bracketologists and basketball fans, sit back and get comfortable. The madness is about to begin.

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