Monday, March 31, 2008

A First-Timer’s Foray into March Madness

This year marks my first exploration into the world of Hoops Hysteria, better known as NCAA March Madness. Herein lies the tale:

A nominal observer at best, I now found myself coerced to join a “tourney pool,” as the lingo goes. What’s a girl to do?

The Monday before brackets were due, I frantically read through every article from many a news source on the Internet, desperately trying to learn as much as I could about teams I had never heard of, playing a game I usually paid little attention to. After reading several commentators and sports writers, “experts” in my summation, argue which team would “upset,” which team had the best “percentage from the line,” and predicting which team would be the “Cinderella story,” I felt moderately comfortable in completing my bracket.

Look at me and my new jargon.

I chose my winners using a very scientific formula of personal loyalty (20%), number of friends who attend said university (30%), and fierceness of mascot (50%). As I filled in my brackets to the championship, I found my heart beating faster. My concentration level was off the charts – an anomaly brought to my attention by a senior staff member walking into my office and interrupting my “work.”

Was I, shudder to think it, excited?

As the tournament (or “tourney” as those intheknow will say) began the next weekend, I found my eyes unwillingly drawn to the television while out for drinks with friends. I kept a quarter of my attention on the conversation whilst the rest of me watched the crushing defeat of Gonzaga by Davidson. (dammit Gonzaga!)

At lunch the next day, our conversation centered on the tourney (see?) and I found myself checking the television, only to be disappointed with an NIT game. Apparently, to those who keep tabs, the NIT is like purgatory for any athlete (or athletic supporter, name that movie) whose team is not currently banished to its confines.

I ended the round with all of my upsets being upset, which, if two negatives make a positive, then I just stated that the higher seeds did, in fact, win their games when I said they would lose. I made two major mistakes in pinning three consecutive rounds on an upset by Gonzaga, whereas Davidson upset them. (dammit Gonzaga!) I also made the mistake in placing my trust in Duke, NCAA tournament veterans, but came to find that most everyone made that same mistake.

Needless to say, I found myself a bit disillusioned by the all of the red strikethroughs that CBS Sports placed on my bracket layout.

Side Note: Your Quarter Century gal must admit that, whilst watching one of the first round games, and seeing that she was losing in the bracket pool, this author sneakily ferreted bracket picking strategies from not one, not two, but three compatriots in the hopes of making better picks next year.

The next weekend, and round, came with less attention paid by yours truly. Sweet Sixteen? Elite Eight? I made the mistake of thinking these rounds would be played over the course of two weekends instead of one. Beginner’s mistake, bygones.

After tuning in to exactly one game of these two rounds, I am pleasantly surprised to find that three out of my four Final Four picks did, in fact, make it to the Final Four. This places me just below the halfway mark in my tournament pool standings.

Not bad for a beginner, eh?

No comments: