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Dr. Bracketology is at work

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beginning tomorrow, workloads will decrease across the country thanks to a little thing I like to refer to as the Holy Grail. That's right, tomorrow the NCAA tournament begins.

With the exception of women's beach volleyball there is no greater sport than basketball and I am a basketball junkie. Usually from November to March I eat, drink and sleep basketball. I'm basically at a basketball game every night and while it gets a little old by the end of February, when the NCAA Tournament rolls around in mid-March I'm like a kid in a toy store.

This year is no different. I can't wait to turn on ESPN so I can hear some former loud-mouth coach tell me what I don't know about basketball. Of course, he was fired because he was a bad coach, but I listen anyway. And why? Because I must know everything about all 511 teams that are in the tournament.

Actually there are only 65 teams in the tournament but there is a method to watching the games. The first thing you must have is knowledge so you can fill out your bracket in your office pool.

If you are not in an office pool, then you know somebody who is. Me, I'm in three and two are for money. Since money is on the line, I can't just look at the bracket and make my picks. I need to know what teams rely on 3-point shooting and how many points per game the worst player on the worst team averages. I need to know the percentage of times a No. 12 seed beats a No. 5 seed and what a certain coach eats for breakfast.

Then, when I am sure what the outcome is going to be, I fill out my brackets. Of course, then I will lose to somebody like my wife who will fill out the bracket and pick the team which has the prettiest uniforms or coolest mascots.

But that is what makes it so exciting. Me, I usually try to take off work for the first round which will be played Thursday and Friday. Because there are 757 games on at one time and I will try to watch them all. I will have one on the television, another on the computer while listening to another on the radio. Not to mention I will have a steady stream of scores to follow. And that goes on all day and night.

I could see where this would cause some problems in a marriage. Fortunately, my wife is very understanding. When she walks in and sees that I'm still in the same clothes as the day before she calmly asks, "Tournament on?" All I do is wave my hand to give the "yes it is now leave me alone" sign. Then she is out the door and off to the stores. Now at this point I don't care because I am planning on winning the office pool to cover what she will spend at Victoria's Secret.

Of course, it isn't OK when my wife laughs at me when I get upset when a team she has never heard of loses. She doesn't realize that a loss early could ruin my entire office pool and that big lump sum of money I was expecting disappeared when some guy that looks like Opie from Mayberry hits a fluke halfcourt shot. It is a very stressful time as you see.

Especially when it is late in a close game. If the game is in the last minute, I just want to be left alone until the game is over. Granted it could take up to 45 minutes to finish, but leave me alone because I have to focus. One ill-

timed blink and I could miss something important and they'll only show the replay 14 times.

And then the upset happens and my bracket is officially shot. But I can still take solace in the fact that some big, strong guy who has worked hours and hours for years to win the championship just saw his dream crumble too. We can share our tears together.

Of course then I go get another beer out of the fridge and sit back and watch another 12 hours of the same thing. Life just doesn't get any better.



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