March Madness, Part IIThis is the time of year when "bracket fever" sweeps the nation and the only known cure is to fill out as many brackets as possible before the NCAA Tournament begins. ESPN.com makes this very easy with their free Tournament Challenge contest, which can be found here: ESPN Tournament Challenge Front Page. The winner receives $10,000.
A quick perusal of my preseason NBA predictions shows that, if the playoffs began today, 13 of the 16 teams I selected would qualify--seven of eight in the East (I picked the Knicks instead of the Wizards, which will be fodder for another post) and six of eight in the West (I chose Seattle and Houston instead of Memphis and the Clippers). That indicates a couple things: (1) Even someone who closely follows the NBA cannot predict with absolute certainty what will happen over the course of a season; (2) anyone who is considering making a (legal) wager based on my NCAA Tournament picks should be aware that I keep much closer tabs on pro ball than college ball, so my accuracy percentage with the NCAA figures to work out to something less than a 13/16 ratio.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I can now mention that I filled out the maximum allowed five brackets at ESPN.com and creatively named them "Friedman 1," "Friedman 2," etc. I suppose if things turn out poorly I will regret attaching my name to these selections, but I prefer the simple, direct approach to coming up with some cutesy nickname. "Friedman 1" reflects most closely what I actually think will transpire--a Final Four of Connecticut, Florida, Duke and Memphis, with Connecticut beating Memphis 86-79 in the championship game. I probably did not include enough upsets in the early rounds of this bracket, but so be it. I treated the other four brackets a little like "alternate reality" science fiction stories; the Tournament often resembles an alternate reality, at least in the early rounds prior to the Final Four, which almost inevitably consists of "chalk" teams. One of my brackets has Ohio State beating Texas in the championship game, avenging OSU's football loss to the Longhorns. The others have North Carolina defeating Duke, Connecticut over Syracuse and Connecticut downing Pittsburgh. I included more upsets in those brackets than I did in my first one; it will be ironic if my "wacky" brackets turn out better than my serious one.
posted by David Friedman @ 5:09 AM