Friday, March 17, 2023

Watching the Bracket Unfold

We decided to try our hand at filling out brackets for March Madness this year, as we usually do.

Right now it’s me, Oliver, and Kim at home. None of us really follow college basketball. I know exactly one fact about this year’s college basketball season – that Alabama has a player who has been credibly accused of some fairly serious crimes but they’ve decided that they’re not going to suspend him because such things don’t matter when you’re dealing with star athletes, particularly in a televised tournament. This one fact puts me ahead of both Kim and Oliver, who didn’t have much time to pay attention to the sport this season and doesn’t follow it at all in any season, respectively.

So it’s going to be a pretty even match among us.

Kim made her picks pretty much at random. I generally choose mine by a number of criteria, which are in descending order of importance, 1) did I attend this university? 2) did someone I know attend this university? 3) is this university from the Philadelphia area? and, if all else fails, 4) would I rather visit this university’s town or their opponent’s? I usually pick the Ivy League team to win their first game but forgot to do that this year, so naturally they did win, which seems fair. Oliver, for his part, decided to look up every team’s mascot and made his picks on that basis. It is, all things considered, the most systematic method of the three of us.

We’re almost through Round 1 and so far it’s been ugly for our brackets.

Both Kim and I have half of our Final Four already eliminated, though I still have my national champion pick as an option. Oliver still has all four of his still viable, but the night is young. Kim has picked more winners than either Oliver or I so far, but as we progress in the later rounds she may be at a disadvantage as more of her later round picks are gone already.

Honestly, we could wrap this up by Sunday night.

At some point there will be Valuable Prizes awarded, as soon as we can be bothered to figure out what those might be. We live in Wisconsin. There may well be cheese involved.

We don’t watch the games. Kim enjoys basketball but finds it a bit stressful since she was one of the stats people for her high school teams and still has this feeling that she should be keeping track of things. Oliver has no interest in the sport but finds the tournament amusing. As a hockey and soccer fan I just get bewildered by a sport where teams routinely score a hundred points in increments of two. Something is missing here.

Also, beyond the “put the ball into the net” aspect of the game I just don’t understand basketball. A few years ago when Wisconsin made it to the championship game we found ourselves in a hotel in Ohio with nothing to do but watch them play one of their early round games. Lauren enjoys the game, so at least there was that. I watched, and there were three consecutive plays – one of which was called a foul on the defense, one on the offense, and one on neither, and I will swear to you now that you could superimpose the replays and there’d be no daylight between them.

So mostly I just check the scores and tally the wins and losses.

I’m enjoying the upsets. Princeton won, an Ivy League 15 seed beating the sports factory 2 seed Arizona. Fairleigh Dickenson won, a 16 beating the 1 seed Purdue, only the second time a 16 has beaten a 1. You have to celebrate these sorts of things before the chalk takes over and the favorites restore order. Nobody less than an 8 seed has ever won this thing, after all.

So we watch our brackets and see how it goes.

Rah, sportsball!

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