Bennett from the Bleachers: Students don’t want brackets busted

Bennett Durando
Sports Columnist

Many sports fans say it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The NCAA Tournament, taking place over two weeks in March into April, is definitely up there as one of the most popular sporting events in at least America.

The NCAA Tournament welcomes 68 schools and is so popular it is referred to as “March Madness” or simply “The Dance.” March owns the NCAA Tournament, or maybe the NCAA Tournament owns March.

So it is that when March comes around everyone in America rushes to find a tournament bracket to fill out with their predictions, from the First Four to the Final Four. WGHS students are no different, as they participate in friendly challenges to see who has the best bracket. Even the teachers hold a bracket competition.

Students commonly submit their brackets to “challenges,” where money is at stake for the person with the best bracket. What tends to happen is that students get absorbed in wanting their brackets to win and thus don’t root for any of the “Cinderellas,” the lower seeds that make the tournament interesting by knocking off powerhouse schools like Duke and Kansas.

March Madness isn’t about the teams any more. It’s about the fans. It’s about the brackets. It’s about the money.

Tycoon Warren Buffett isn’t helping much either, as his challenge offered to fans this year was to complete a perfect bracket. The one who could do so would be rewarded $1 billion from Buffett.

The problem with that “generous” offer is that with 67 unpredictable games and tons of possible matchup combinations in the later rounds, there are a total of 9.2 quintillion possible combinations of brackets that can be filled out. That’s a 9.2 followed by 18 zeros. Good luck with those odds.

Students were so obsessed with the idea of a billion dollars they couldn’t enjoy a classic upset in #14 Mercer over #3 Duke. All they cared about was their brackets being ruined because they had Duke going all the way.

Freshman Colin Gilker said about his excitement for the “Sweet 16” stage of the tournament, “Well, my bracket’s kind of ruined with Wichita State losing. There’s really no point in watching anymore.” Poor Colin with his dead bracket doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Not that it’s bad to fill out a bracket, but lot of times filling them out and then paying close attention to it throughout the dance ruins the experience of watching the greatest two weeks in collegiate sports. The best thing to do is fill out a single bracket with your honest picks, then put it aside and see how you did once the tournament’s over.

Maybe you did well. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you won some money in a challenge. If so great, but most of all you didn’t let who you picked for dictate who you rooted for.

Then there’s the people who fill out dozens of brackets. If filling out a bracket in the first place is your way of voicing who you think will win each game, what need is there for more than one? All it is is self esteem. You can fill out all the brackets you want with all the different combinations you want, and in at least one of them you’ll get that big game right. That’s good for you, but did you honestly pick that team?

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