15 Mar 2017

gridlore: One of the "Madagascar" penguins with a checklist: [x] cute [x] cuddly [x] psychotic (Penguin - Checklist)
Well, it's that time again. March Madness. When America grinds to a screeching stop so we can pretend not to bet on a college basketball tournament. Even though i won't be doing my part by wasting billions of dollars of productivity following the games, I've filled out my brackets.

Two of them, actually. One on ESPN and one on Yahoo, both of which will mark the only time I use those accounts all year. The annual Filling Out Of The Brackets has become a holy ritual, with some people spending more effort determining whether Seton Hall has a better free throw percentage than Xavier than they will on their taxes. Which explain much about this nation.

By the way, I'd totally pay more attention to college basketball if "Xavier" was actually the school from the X-Men comics. I mean, is it traveling if you fly with the ball in your hands? But alas, that dream must stay in the realm of the comic book that I demand be on the shelves pronto.

There's even a term for this national obsession with obscure schools you've never heard of: "Bracketology." If you listen to sports radio in late February you will hear grown mean discussing how to fill out your bracket in the way I was told how to save my life if I was exposed to nerve gas: in great detail and deathly serious. For eight years the President of the United States would host ESPN in the White House so he could reveal not a secret plan to send Rush Limbaugh to Mars, but his picks for the NCAA Tournament. It was a show! And boy do I miss that guy right now.

But I'm not a basketball fan in the least. Despite being a total sports goober basketball never appealed in the least. Even though I grew up in the glory days of Dr. J, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and witnessed the deification of Michael Jordan, I was just never into the game itself. Too many weird fouls, I suppose. It would be action action action *tweet* and everyone marches to the other end of the court.

I also blame my mother. As was required by law, our house had a basketball net mounted on the garage. This was put up despite one kid being legally blind and the other two being sports-adverse. But on warm summer nights we'd dutifully file out for a game of Horse. If you're not familiar with the game, one person shoots a basket. If they make it, the next person has to replicate the shot or get a letter. Spell Horse and you're out.

Which would be fine, except my mom was an undiscovered basketball prodigy! She'd nail hook shots, jumpers through the horrible sap-ridden tree branches, and even from the end of the driveway! And then I'd be handed the ball and told to try my best! Ha! There's a reason I became a dedicated bookworm.

There you go, the reason why basketball and I aren't friends. We just don't get along well, and I think we're both good with that. I cheer for the Warriors when I hear about them, and can name at least three team members; although I have to admit that comes from listening to news radio all day, not actual interest.

But I did fill out my brackets. On both I picked Duke to win because I heard someone say that Duke was the bookmakers' favorite. So of course Duke will be beaten in the first round just to screw up my entire bracket. A more likely scenario is I'll have a good first round, get my hopes up, and then watch the entire thing burn down, fall over, and sink into the swamp.

I know everyone reading this is dying to know my secrets to picking a bracket. Do I compare stats? Check the teams comparative records? Examine the coaching philosophies? Seek out the wisdom of wiser heads and heed their advice?

No, most years I pick almost at random. I usually go for the higher seeded team unless I like the other school more. For example, I always pick Wisconsin to do at least moderately well, due to family ties and the fact that I like badgers. My other method is to play Mascot Deathmatch. Which mascot would win a fight? This is why in the years Stanford has made it to the tournament I've never picked them to win. Their mascot is a tree. Trees are terrible fighters.

Go brackets! Do me proud, and I'd like to apologize to Kirsten for my annual descent into March Madness.

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