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The so-called science of bracketology

So now as the NCAA mens basketball tournament has completed week one, how are your brackets looking? If they are anything like mine, they are sitting crumpled in the trash can.

It never used to be like that. There was a time not all that long ago, that I won the office pool, three or four years in a row. At the time, I referred to myself (to use an college basketball phrase) as the UCLA of the tourney bracket. But since then, I have been the Iowa Hawkeyes of bracketology. Far, far away from anything. Thanks for playing, and try again next year. Kind of like my putting in golf. Not even close.

Last year, I did what I usually do, and went chalk. Favorites all the way. Except our good friends from Cedar Falls, the UNI Panthers knocked out the tourney favorites Kansas, which rendered about 90% of all brackets, including mine, totally useless. As excited as I was, when Ali Farokhmanesh made that shot, my tournament sheet found it's way to the fireplace.

So this year, I decided to take a page from George Costanza (remember the great Seinfeld episode, when George did the opposite of what he would ordinarily do? It worked so well for him, he ended up working for the Yankees), and do things a bit different. No more doing what is expected. Time to take an upset or two. Maybe shake things up a bit, break the streak, and no more Mr. Nice guy finishing 38th in the office pool.

As of now, I can only hope for 38th place. I am sitting squarely in 77th place. If this were a high school football game, they would be in the mercy rule, running the clock. If it were in a NASCAR race, the red flag would be out, and I would have to come in for going too slow. If this were a golf tournament, and I would miss the cut. Remember when Michael Spinks fought Mike Tyson years ago, and was knocked out in the first minute of the fight? That was just like my brackets without the headache.

It wasn't that they were hideous picks. My final four choices are Ohio State, Duke, Kansas and St. Johns. Of course St. Johns, who looked great the last month of the season, gets ripped up like yesterdays newspaper in the bird cage, against Gonzaga. The team I had them beating in Southeast Regional Final, Pitt, committed a foul with virtually no time and lost to Butler.

The mistake I made was listening to all the so-called pundits. The guys that told me that Belmont would beat Wisconsin, and Oakland is ripe to take out Texas. And, oh yes, they are the same people who said that St. Johns was the hottest team in college hoop since the first of the year, and could go deep in the tournament. Instead they went to the airport, and back to New York City in the deep of the night.

The NCAA is one of the greatest sport events that we have. Certainly the most interactive, when you consider the office pools, and brackets, ect. That is why we all love it. Thing is, even though I am in danger of finishing in the Pioneer League, I wouldn't change a thing. Now I can enjoy the tourney, and not worry about who is winning or losing. Of course, there is always next year.

you can read more Jeff Hare at


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