Letting Go of My Bracket

~Lorenzo Patrick (@smartspeak89)

The Elite 8 is now set in this year’s men’s NCAA tournament. Have you dried the tears you shed onto your bracket from last week yet?

To get even 80% of the 63 matchups you have to choose each year correct (let’s be real, nobody’s doing those play-in games) is a real accomplishment. But you don’t want 80%, do you? NO!!! You want perfection. The estimated $9+ billion spent wagering on this tourney (legal or otherwise) definitely says so. You want office bragging rights, or a million dollars from a promotion, or to simply show up that one person that always has to be right.

Then Middle Tennessee State wipes their ass with your aspirations.

But you KNEW this would happen. The odds of you filling out a perfect bracket is literally 1 in 9.2 quintillion. If it wasn’t Middle Tennessee State leaving the proverbial turd in the punchbowl, then it was Yale, Gonzaga, or Stephen F. Austin. Why would you do this to yourself every year? You probably haven’t even seen 63 college basketball games this season. However, every March you make this bracket, cry a little bit, then move on to the NBA Playoffs.

Knowing our collective nature, as I do, I decided to not to make a bracket this year. I watched the two-hour love letter to Coca-Cola that was the NCAA Selection Show, but didn’t do the assigned homework.Admittedly, I’m a casual basketball fan, but I’ve always liked college basketball. Much like the NBA, I’ll start paying attention in February and watch through the playoffs. Not only is football gone from my sports watching landscape by that time, but the teams I should be paying attention to are clear. There are too many teams in too many places playing too poor a brand of basketball to sift through it all. Just ask the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Being at this point of the tournament, and this close to finding out which teams will be in the Final Four this year, one thing is very clear:

The tournament isn’t fun to watch without making these brackets.

All of the problems of watching an inferior product become glaring without it. It’s cool watching future NBA superstars grow and develop before they become superstars. It’s even cooler when there are multiple draft picks on the same team. However, if they’re like this year’s version of the Cal Golden Bears as they entered the tournament, who had THREE potential draft picks on their team not show up for various reasons, I’m not interested. The presumptive #2 overall draft pick, LSU’s Ben SImmons, isn’t even in the tournament! I don’t impulsively hate Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Georgetown, UCLA, or any of the other legendary programs.  I didn’t even go to a Division I school. Though Mike Krzyzewski is admittedly whiney and annoying.

There are literally only two reasons for me to watch the tournament outside of the vanity of my own bracket. One is to sit in awe of 32 games taking over the airwaves over a two day period, which has now passed. The second would be to watch potential NBA greatness dominate on the college level. Ben Simmons might not be here, but Buddy Hield, the national player of the year and presumptive lottery pick in the NBA Draft, has led his Oklahoma Sooners into the Elite 8. Notre Dame’s Demitrius Jackson and Gonzaga’s Domanta Sibonus are the only other two projected first round picks left playing in the tournament, and play Friday night. A rerun of Shark Tank sounds like a great alternative.

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