Wednesday, March 15, 2006

March Madness

Every year at this time, I would fill out multiple brackets for the NCAA tournament. For a few years I even ran the office pool. And in the past couple years I went so far as to research all the teams in February to have a very good idea of which ones were really good and which were paper tigers before the brackets came out. I have probably filled out brackets every year that I was on the continent since I was 10 or 12. That's 20 years for those of you playing at home.

The enjoyment of the whole thing is the competition. Both on the court and in the bracket. By choosing teams for your bracket, you almost always have a team to cheer for. Whether you win the pool or not can depend on any single game. So there is always a bit of urgency for your team to win. But it isn't about the money, it's the satisfaction of knowing you picked better than the next guy. Even if it was random. It's fun to sit there with the brackets of all the people entered into the pool and determine game by game where everyone stands and which brackets have been mathematically eliminated and who has the best chance of winning. What combination of wins do I need in order to win the pool?

But this year is different. I may fill out a bracket of my favorite teams, but I will not enter a pool. I haven't followed the season at all (like when I was a kid). And it seems kinda pointless knowing nothing about the teams. So this year I will cheer for teams outside of knowing how they have done. I will cheer for my alma mater Illinois. I used to hate Duke with a passion until I visited the campus and the medical center save my mother's life. I will cheer for them. I will root for all the Big Ten and Midwestern teams. And lastly I will cheer for teams for very complex reasons such as I like their names (Villanova, Xavier, Gonzaga), or I have been to the city they are from, or I have cheered for them in the past (Syracuse, Florida, Kansas).

So I'll watch a few games and follow Illinois, but that passion and interest in the games won't be the same.

Update: (11:36pm) Well, I just joined a pool in the 11th hour (literally). Some good friends who I play against every year. The appeal of the competition is just too great to pass up. So I did a little research and cranked one out.

It's nothing like last year where I submitted something like 8 brackets in three different pools with hours of research. I'll probably do as well.

Anyhow, now I have a reason to watch the games.


Anonymous said...

I was trying to avoid it also. but I have to now admit. I also caved. In three pools actually. One with Conn as champ and two with Florida taking the dance. A hunch perhaps, I just think Donovan has the team this year. So far, ( 9:09PM CT Thursday) it looks Ok as FLA won by 26pts.

I don't feel guilty about it actually, it will keep some interest during the tourney.


Anonymous said...

I don't usually participate in the pools, especially as my workplace doesn't seem to have one and all the Illini alum here have moved on to greener pastures. Still, I tried filling out the brackets this year, just for the fun of it and so my husband can laugh at me.

Go Illini!!!!

Unknown said...

I guess the question is whether one of these years we actually don't cave in and participate. College basketball is the one sport that is virtually non-existant up here save for the US feeds. Though with the internet it has become very easy to follow along. There is just NO ONE to talk to about it.