My Very Unscientific March Madness Brackets


Here it is April and March Madness is still going on. But I’m excited about it — I’m ahead in my brackets.

Last year, I knew nothing of brackets. In fact, I knew nothing of basketball except for what I learned on a date to see the Milwaukee Bucks when I was about 20. And that was professional basketball. March Madness refers to college basketball.

I prefer college sports to pro sports because things are so much more difficult for the college players. In addition to training and competing, they have school papers to write, exams to pass and the relentless pressure of being on campus the day after a game. Very cool if they win; not so cool if they lose. In addition to juggling all this training and homework and peer pressure, their hormones are charging around in there making things even more complex. Yet, despite all this, college athletes play their hearts out, each hoping to obtain the professional contract that will give them a well-deserved rest and an occasional endorsement deal.

So when my son-in-law handed me a printout of who was facing whom in the quest to be the best among college basketball teams, I filled in the winners. Not the actual winners, of course, but the teams I thought would be the winners. Gazillionaire Warren Buffett offered a billion dollars to anyone who scored 100 percent on this exercise, and he will not have to pay out — that’s how hard it is.

When filling in their brackets, here’s how basketball enthusiasts choose — they look at the statistics (“stats,” in my brave new world of sports), rate the scoring records of all the teams, assess each player’s personal performance and how it relates to the match-ups, and end up choosing the winning team. That’s not how I do it. In the first place, without my glasses, I didn’t realize the win-loss scores were included on the sheet, so I didn’t look at those. I looked at the state names only. I chose Gonzaga in the first round because I liked the name. Who wouldn’t want to attend Gonzaga U no matter which state it’s in?

And Gonzaga won — at least over Oklahoma State and Arizona.

On the other side of the page, I chose Harvard. I figured they would lose, but that’s why I chose them — sympathy. When I think Harvard sports, I think rowing. Until I saw this sheet, I thought rowing was all they did over there. Row across the river, row back. That’s an egghead sport. And eggheads don’t get into Harvard because they admire the school’s basketball team. So they were the underdogs.

Harvard won one game then, predictably, lost the next. Back to the river.

I chose the University of Florida because my daughter went there and I like the school. They did a good job with her. And I toured their sports complex while I was there, so I felt like I knew the guys. I had seen their basketball court. It seemed like a friendly court that would encourage one to win. And, at least at this writing, they’re still in the game.

I chose the University of Wisconsin, because that’s the school from which I graduated. (I was going to say “that I graduated from,” but that wouldn’t reflect very well upon ol’ UW now, would it?) Wisconsin did well, too.

So now we get down to the Big Game, the Final Two of the Final Four. On my brackets, Wisconsin faces Florida. It’s me against my daughter. And even though Wisconsin colors are red and white, the same colors as the flag of my grandmother’s native Poland, I have chosen orange and blue to go all the way.

So, you can see where choosing brackets is a very scientific process.