Bracketology: If All Else Fails, Make an Algorithm
Here’s the deal, I have never won a March Madness tournament. Hell, it’s a banner year if I finish in the top third. But that doesn’t stop me from at least trying. Let’s face it, the only difference between the dude that won the pot of cash and/or bragging rights and you is how lucky you get picking the shoe-ins and the the spoiler teams. If there were ever a definition of Every Dog Has Its Day it would be the field of 64. Sure, picking the four top seeds from each conference would be a safe ride. And chances are, you would probably pick half of the Final Four correctly.
But if Butler taught us anything last year is that there is no such thing as a safe pick. Though they didn’t even make it to the Big Dance this year (Detroit, I loathe you for more than one reason!) last year was a wild ride that proved a Tar Heel, Wildcat or Blue Devil is not necessary a ticket for absolute success and even the smallest school can punch its ticket all the way to the final.
So how do you pick who advances and who watches the next round from a couch? Part of it is the strength of the team. It’s no surprise teams like Kentucky and Michigan State have earned a #1 seed and schools like Cal are still scrapping away in a play-in game. But people pick teams for a lot of reasons–most not rooted remotely in logic.
Homerism to the nth degree always in any sort of decision making. You always pick your alma mater no matter if their chances of advancing to the next round are somewhere between slim and none. In my case, I have three alma maters–Valparaiso, Wisconsin and Michigan State. My heart lies with Valpo, but they aren’t there. Again. So that leaves Wisconsin and Sparty. Head-head-head I will always go with Wisconsin. Alas, this year, I doubt they’ll make it past Vanderbilt, but stranger things have happened. Yet that’s not to say that I don’t cheer for State in other circumstances, especially when they are playing the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, or Duke. And in situations like this, it’s usually Sparty standing at the end, so there, you have my pick to win it all because I never claimed not to be a homer.
Normally one defaults to other teams in the conference once their alma mater is done for the count. But in my case, that simply isn’t going to happen. Too much bad blood in the Big Ten for me to ever give a rip about Indiana, Purdue, (the, whatever) Ohio State University. And I’d rather dive naked into a bucket of razorblades and vinegar than every cheer for anything coming out of Ann Arbor.
Which brings us to next concept: Picking AGAINST teams you loathe. Yeah, never want the above to ever win. Might as well throw in Duke to that mix as well.
And then there are the gimmick picks. You know, schools like Gonzaga before they were pale shadows of their former Cinderella selves. A team can suck dead toad through a straw, be happily mediocre on a good day, yet if they score the elusive #12 seed, everyone seems to love them and suddenly they are as vogue as all get out.
So, yeah, there is no safe pick out there. Go ahead, use insane troll logic to pick the perfect bracket. Base your choices on team colors. Pick the most ferocious mascot. Hell, throw a dart at a dartboard.
If you are still reading my useless advice, I’ll finish it with an algorithm I drafted to help navigate–or at least add some useless weight–to March Madness.