There are probably a gazillion people out there who filled out brackets for the men’s NCAA Tournament and that’s just fine. From housewives to degenerate gamblers, to office pools and barber shops, that piece of paper containing your iron clad predictions is more valuable than gold, and it’s just possible that your odds of winning a million dollars from some web site you’ve never heard of in exchange for a perfect bracket are better than that hitting that lottery you play every week. 

Let’s face it, this is a science in which we all feel we’re imminently qualified to predict the outcomes, and in some cases, we will even go as far as to complete a bracket for a friend or colleague who doesn’t know the difference between a Kentucky Wildcat and an LSU Tiger. It’s the proverbial right of passage, and you’re all in and then some. 

Many of you called in sick to work on that epic Thursday when the first rounds began, and some of you made it a two-day occurrence by taking Friday, too. There can be no underestimating of the powerful lure that has you watching the late tipoffs and being bleary-eyed and grouchy the next morning as a result of your refusal to sleep.

It’s firmly within your DNA and will only get worse as your bracket quickly blows up.

Yes, despite the fact that you secretly completed a secondary, and in some cases, a tertiary bracket, the chances of you being correct come Final Four time are beyond astronomical, and your allegiance to your alma mater while noteworthy, in the end, simply won’t be enough. Translation: The gig is up and you were wrong.

Now I will admit that premise of a perfect bracket is indeed a daunting challenge, and while I once drafted a bracket (2001) that was correct to the coveted Sweet 16 stage, I, too, have flamed out often and early, so this is an indictment of all our failures.

While bragging rights will be retained by those with the most correct picks, we will all fantasize about comprising the perfect bracket until next year, at which time we’ll research and procrastinate, and complete it just before the first game begins.

So as you huddle around your television this weekend with friends and good food, just remember that none of us had Auburn in the national semifinals and you’ll be sleep deprived on Tuesday from staying up late to watch the championship game between two schools that you did not have advancing to the final game. Then again, maybe you did on your fifth bracket, so go ahead and bask in the glory. Either way, you win.

Overtime: The parity that the NCAA and CBS Sports would like you to believe in is clearly artificial. The reality is, there is no dominant team in college basketball this year, and while that’s a rarity, it has given some of you hope in terms of your bracketology. 

The Purdue Boilermakers gave the state of Indiana something to cheer about, and honestly, should have defeated Virginia and be playing in the Final Four this weekend. Head coach Matt Painter did a great job guiding his troop and is on an increasingly long list of people that UCLA is interested in for its head coaching position. Look for Purdue to sweeten his current contract to undercut any program looking to hire him.

While it’s never going to change, the NCAA and its policy of playing the Final Four in a football stadium is sacrilegious to purist hoops fans. There is no reason for it other than corporate greed, and it’s a real disservice to the players and the game.

 

Danny Bridges, who feels Michigan State will waltz to the national championship from this point, can be reached at (317) 370-8447, or at bridgeshd@aol.com

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