Off-Court Strategy

By Beacon Staff

I remember as a senior in high school laboring over my bracket, trying to find a reasonable explanation for every choice. Several of my male peers were particularly tedious in their choices. Having watched games all season, they sat in class comparing statistics, season records and star match-ups.

That year, it was an English teacher who won the bracket challenge. Someone who far preferred discussing the themes and character development of Les Miserables to any sporting event, she chose her winners based on which team’s jersey colors she preferred.

The perfect off-court strategy for bracket success is a contested issue. Should mascot ferocity hold sway, or do you make that first-round upset pick after consulting with the woman from accounting who hasn’t watched a college basketball game in 10 years?

Following one’s heart seems to be a dangerous route. Irrational allegiance to a favorite team, no matter their match-up or tournament history, has claimed many a bracket. Beacon Editor Kellyn Brown, a Spokane native who chose Gonzaga to make it all the way to the Elite Eight, could only lament, “What was I thinking?” after the Zags lost out in the first round to Davidson. And, choosing all willy-nilly, may leave you with a bracket like photographer Lido Vizzutti’s, whose championship game players – Okalahoma and Connecticut – are both gone after two rounds.

As I watch my bracket begin to crumble, I’m fondly remembering the glory days of last year, when I won not one, but two brackets. I have no idea what I did differently this year.

The problem for us bracketeers is that nobody tells teams like Siena, Davidson, Western Kentucky or San Diego – all first-round spoilers – that there is no way they should, could or would beat that higher-seeded team. And, for the love of all office pools, why didn’t someone tell West Virginia to play nice with Duke?

Such is the beauty – and agony – of NCAA basketball, though. Unpredictable brackets put all of us, avid fans and disinterested dolts, on even ground, and gives everybody someone to cheer for and groan about. And, as I followed games this weekend, I felt confident my English teacher would’ve chosen 13-seed Siena’s upset over number-four Vanderbilt, since I’d previously only associated “Siena” with a lovely rust-red shade of crayon.

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