The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament are always a grand time of the year. March Madness is the one of the biggest betting ventures in all of sports, listed as second behind the Super Bowl. We all love it. Everyone we know seems to have a bracket, or certainly an opinion.
I was hot back in the 1980’s. In 1986 I won an office pool that netted me (_ $$$$___) (Oops! No IRS readers, or snitches among us are there?) Anyway, I got a tidy sum by picking Louisville to win it all over Duke, even nailing the score – 72-69. I felt like the Great Kreskin. Then at a new job in 1988 I had both Indiana and Syracuse in the final – doing “very” well along the way – picking Indiana to win in what was a “fantastic-thriller” with Keith Smart hitting to win with single-digit seconds remaining. The great part of that win was that another guy in the office was tied with me going into the final. He also had Indiana and Syracuse. He chose Syracuse to win. So, whatever team won would determine a “healthy” pot – in a winner take all. For the game, everyone met at a bar in midtown Manhattan. I went to this “dude” and made the offer to split the pot so that we could both relax and get smashed knowing we won “handsomely”. His response: “Are you serious? I got in this to win. Plain and simple!” So, needless to say, it was a rather tortuous game to watch. But when Keith Smart hit for the win … it was completely joyous! I also picked UNLV and Duke in 1990 with the Runnin’ Rebels winning it all. That pool was substantially smaller, but nice all the same. I have been completely dry since!
The Kreskin moment has evaporated just like Harbaugh’s dignity when he climbs trees to impress recruits. I have picked teams like Connecticut on repeats, Kentucky on off-years, The Ohio State University (for no logical reason), and even Miami of Florida – just because the “hunch” was “real”.
This year’s bracket was a bust on opening night. My final tally is 39 out of 60. My Final Four was Villanova, Maryland, Kansas, and North Carolina. So, ultimately, this year’s Final Four I have 1 of 4 remaining. North Carolina I put in the Final against Villanova with the Wildcats repeating. Just to give you an insight in my thoughts – in round one I had Marquette beating South Carolina. I also had Iowa State in the Sweet 16 and TTUN (How dare me!) in the Elite Eight. That mortal sin alone justifies my humiliation in yet another year.
My drought has been 27 years now. I have never even come close. My cockiness going into the process of picking only generates an equation that radiates ‘stupid-three-squared’. Clearly when I look at a bracket nowadays it looks more like – √(3x+25) =d+2x has an extraneous solution at x=-3. Come again? Clearly that isn’t reference to TTUN, right?
Anyway, we have our Final Four: Gonzaga, South Carolina, Oregon, and North Carolina. It will be fun, as it always is. I, arguably must confess, that I wish the Buckeyes were there … but that’s stretching reality a tad following the year they had. April 3rd is the night. I will be watching, as usual. I will have my favorite narrowed by then – which is Gonzaga … and I will have the beer iced.
I love this time of the year – even if my hot hand was when Michael Jackson was alive and King of the music world with ‘Bubbles’ in tow. Bill Cosby was the King of TV. And George H.W. Bush, now in hindsight, looks like a Governing Genius. I will go another year with no stake in any pool, other than I donated … but I will have fun and wait until next March and somehow muddle the whole process again, believing that the 80’s have returned.