Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Bracketology. What an ugly word. But ugly or not, we will hear this word often.

We'll also hear "The Big Dance," "Bracket Buster," "Upset City," "This year's Cinderella" and other choice phrases uttered this time of year, like the first green shoots of spring. It's all part and parcel of March Madness. Oh, there I go again, another one of those seasonal phrases.

So be it. Let the madness begin. (Oops, I did it again.) No, I haven't filled out my bracket yet, so you'll just have to wait on that. More on that later. I'd like to get back to Bracketology. What is this, exactly? I heard a sportscaster refer to it as the science of basketball seeding. Or something like that. Science? OK, there's biology, ecology, biogeography, geology, astrology and .... bracketology? Ah, yes, the rigor of analyzing the teams, sizing up the players, testing playmaking equations and voila! presenting an academically vetted, peer-reviewed method of looking at the vagaries of college basketball.

Where do I get my Phd?

And there's Joe Lunardi, the nerd who becomes ESPN's version of a porn star for the week or so leading to the NCAA Selection Committee choosing the field of 64. That guy gets more face time and ink than Paris Hilton and Britney Spears combined. I mean, you can't get away from him. There he is in Sportscenter. There he is being interviewed on another show. There he is quoted in the newspaper, online. The seer. Mr. Omniscient. The oracle. Nostradamus of College Hoopus.

What hooey.

I've got to give him credit. The guy works very, very hard for about two weeks and probably makes enough coin to take a 50-week vacation. He probably watches the tournament in Fiji.

And he probably makes much better picks than me. And that's where good 'ol Joe and I diverge. it seems the more I pay attention, the more I scrutinize the teams, the more I hunt for strengths and weaknesses, seek a perceived edge such as which team is playing closest to home, etc., the worse I do. Hell, when I lived in Slovakia and couldn't keep up, let alone never watch, college games, I picked really well. I picked Richmond over Syracuse. I picked Arizona losing to high-seeded teams twice. I picked an entire Final Four. I picked a few champions. I congratulated myself.

Then, I returned to the States, reacquainted myself with a television remote and a sofa and began watching games. And some more games. Oh, maybe some more after that. Didn't matter whether it was FSU, VCU or ASU. It was college basketball, and I enjoyed watching. I was gaining knowledge, an edge that surely would pay off well come tournament time.

Except it hasn't. I swear I would so as well if I picked teams strictly according to some arbitary rule, such as proximity to Des Moines, or, say, Brownsville, than on ability, talent, or RPI. A colleague of mine told me today that she picked her pool based on the team jersey colors, and she won.

I know I didn't win last year. Hmmm. Blue or Red?

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