Pull out the bib overalls, but don’t pay attention to March myths
March 13, 2003
Well, it’s March 13, and that means one thing around this office– all production shuts down as we gear up for the NCAA basketball pool. Really, there won’t be a paper for the next two weeks, so don’t bother coming down here complaining because frankly we’re not interested in hearing your whining.
Next to the Super Bowl, this is America’s biggest sporting event, and without an annoying halftime show. But what’s that you say? You’re not going to participate in an office pool this year? If that’s true, it has to be due to one of the following reasons:
— Stapler accident
— Tie caught in printer
— Untimely succession of Keno setbacks
— No left-handed brackets available
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— No matter how many times I count, I only get 61 teams
— Duct-taped myself in my house.
For the rest of us, March Madness is life itself. Everything stops during the final two weeks of March. Everything! Even G.W. Bush knows the score — he’s postponing the war with Iraq for the NCAA Tournament (thanks, GOP!).
You started with nothing but a ten dollar bill and a dream. But now it is your reason for living — for dragging yourself through the final, wet, murky days of winter toward the warm sunshine of blessed spring.
So many shall fill out brackets. So many shall die. And invariably, your pool will be won by Doug, the guy from the mailroom who didn’t even know it was basketball season until he heard about the pool. “Oh jeepers, I don’t know a thing about sports. Well, I’ll enter anyway …”
It’s sad, really. Where did we go wrong?
Well, the following is a complete set of instructions on how you can finally win the office basketball pool. There will be no complex mathematical equations to memorize. Tools are not required. You will need a clean set of bib overalls and a pair of comfortable shoes. Okay (deep breath). Let’s get rich.
First, let’s begin by exploding a few myths about the typical NCAA basketball office pool.
Myth No. 1: “To win, I have to make a couple of really exotic, offbeat picks.”
No. Wrong. Take a look at any winning bracket since the tournament began and I’ll guarantee you that it will be pretty standard. Also there may be beer stains. The guy who picks Bradley to upset North Carolina in the first round is just throwing away those first-round points. Poor dope. Even if Bradley should somehow prevail, you know that some other weird choice is going to sink the guy somewhere down the line. Let’s face it — the Bradley guy is just a loser.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you have to distinguish yourself from everyone else. Make your picks as though you were the only one in the pool. In fact, to practice, run a pool that includes only yourself and the family dog. String together four or five consecutive pool titles to build your confidence and then join in at the office. (Note: Will not work with Lassie.)
Myth No. 2: “My sheet must be nearly perfect, or I can’t win.”
No, no, no. That’s wrong, and I resent your attitude. I’ve seen winning entries that have received more dents than the Monitor and the Merrimack. It all depends on the disposition of the tournament at hand. If you’ve lost a lot of points, rest assured that others in the pool are in the same boat. Be loose and flexible when making your picks – you’re not exactly taking the SATs here — well, unless you’re related to Jim Harrick.
Myth No. 3: “The winner is decided in the first two rounds.”
No! Please place your brackets on the table and exit the room quietly — you should be filled with shame. The guy who won our office pool last year — to protect his identity I’ll simply call him Steve Yingling in the sports department — had an average first two rounds. He didn’t claw his way to the top until the Final Four. And, he didn’t even choose the correct national champion. Now, I’ll admit that is rare, but the fact remains that “two rounds do not a winning bracket make.”
Now, go out there and win it all, Tiger! (slap on butt).
And remember, this column gets the usual 15 percent (20 percent in Canada).
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