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domingo, marzo 22, 2015

The Busted Brackets

This year it was the pundits who led me astray. If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, lots of information is worse. Far worse. And so it was that Eastern Washington/Iowa State and their Cinderella spokesmodels led me astray. Once again, as two years ago, my brackets are pretty much busted.

That means it’s time to recall the story of Diane (not her real name). About five years ago members of her extended family encouraged her/bullied her to fill out a bracket and enter the family $100 pool. $5 per person. She probably felt this was just another attempt to filch money from her. She acknowledges that she doesn’t know anything about basketball (but has a loyalty to Illinois) and the pool wouldn’t be the first time she was played for a sucker. She ponied up the fin and set to work.

Her method was unusual. It’s Applied Kinesiology, in other words: use a pendulum to choose the winner of each game. This is very time consuming. She filled out the full bracket, but Diane never put it up on line. That was a level of commitment she didn’t quite summons. I was a part of her family pool also: I came in second.

After the tournament, noting that she didn’t actually post the bracket at ESPN, I asked her how she did. Said she, “Well, I got them all wrong.”

“You mean almost all of them, right?”

“It’s embarrassing. I got them all wrong, every single one.”

When I first heard this, I was astonished. I immediately thought that she must have asked the wrong question of the pendulum or didn’t know a yes from a no or maybe she just should have inverted her choices. She, of course, didn’t recognize that hers was an incredible achievement.

Mathematically, it is not as hard to get all of the choices on a bracket wrong as it is to get them right. That’s because after you lose the first 32 games, all of the following ones are also losses. You don’t need to worry about the second round or the Sweet Sixteen or the Final Four. All of your teams are on a bus home after Friday.

In comparison my brackets are clear, muddy mediocrity. The better of them (yes, I did 2 this year) now has 67.1 percent correct and is ranked 3,812,839. The other is far, far worse. My hope, the same as at all other times, is just to beat the President. He is hard to beat because he is very conservative (not just in basketball predictions) and does not get inveigled by the Georgia States, Iowa States and Eastern Washingtons of the world. He doesn’t like me automatically try to pick a 9 to beat an 8 or a 14 to overturn a 3. Unlike me, he’s not trying to bring home the long shot. So let me note that right now, the President has 56.2 percent correct and is ranked 5,065,809.

You're welcome to draw from this whatever conclusion you like.

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