Let me help you with your bracket this year:  Don’t fill one out.

You’re going to do it anyway?  You’re not alone.  But consider this my public service announcement:

Multiple Bracket Guy, after a big upset:
“I actually picked them in one of my brackets.”

Oh, did you?  You picked both teams to win and one of them did?  Is Charlie Babbitt picking you up on the way to Vegas when The People’s Court is over?  You don’t put money on black and red at the roulette table and cheer every result.

After a 10 beats a 7:
“Another upset!”

Was it?  Was the 7-seed even favored in Vegas? By more than a basket? #11 Texas is *favored* to beat #6 Butler.  So is #10 Ohio St. versus #7 VCU.  These are neutral court games with good but not great teams.

“The 12s beat the 5s every year!”

I’ll give you this one–and check out fivethrityeight‘s article.  But I do think people overstate the difference in these two teams.  The 12s may seem closer to the 16s than the 5s, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  The 12s are at-large bids, roughly in the top 17% of Division I’s 351 teams, playing on someone else’s home floor a neutral court.

This year, West Virginia and Arkansas are favored by just 4.5 and 6.5 points over capable 12s in Buffalo and Wofford.  Even #4 Maryland is just -4.5 versus #13 Valparaiso.

Some of these are the equivalent of flipping a coin ten times and it coming up heads 6 or 7 times, instead of 5. Would you even blink an eye at that?

“Can you believe all of these small schools?!”
/Loosely applies term ‘Cinderella’)

All DI programs are armed with full scholarships.  And we’re only playing 5 at a time. Duke has an enrollment of 14,000.  VCU’s is over 31,000.  Georgia State’s enrollment is higher than Georgia’s undergrad total of 26,200.  Arizona State’s 80,000+ enrollment hasn’t seemed to bolster its basketball program.

“Can you believe all of these upsets©?  It seems to happen every year!”

Yes, I find things that happen every year easy to believe.  Can you believe I had to pay taxes on my income this year?


We don’t call the baseball playoffs “October Madness”, or fill out a bracket. But didn’t the World Series just feature two teams with 89 and 88 regular season wins?  Six wild card teams have won the World Series. Six wild card teams have won the Super Bowl.  The LA Kings won a Stanley Cup as an 8-seed.

Without a bracket in the past few years, I’ve allowed myself to fully enjoy a sporting event that needs no sugar on top.  I’ve not been embarrassed by underperforming a bracket of a co-worker’s wife who hates basketball.  I’ve not caught myself rooting against a team I’ve always liked because my bracket needed them to lose.  I’ve not rooted for a Kansas win.  I’ve not referred to Mercer’s win over Duke as a bracket buster.

Every year I haven’t filled out a bracket, I’ve won.

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