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My Bracket Is Still Perfect

March 18, 2016

Sorry to tell you this. Your bracket has more losses than mine. I wasn’t even worried. Yale, a #12 seed wins their first NCAA tournament game? No problem. Providence #9 knocks out USC #8? Not worried. Tiny Little Rock, a #12 upsets #5 Purdue? Not concerned about my bracket at all. BYU loses in the first round again. . .

What’s that? BYU didn’t make the NCAA tournament? 

No worries. It has no effect on my bracket. 

You see, this year, my bracket is empty. I can state emphatically that I didn’t pick a single game wrong. Not one. We don’t have to talk about the fact that I failed to pick a single winner as well. 

I love March Madness. My brother used to put together a family tournament every year. Unfortunately, he owns a CPA firm. That’s great to get him to do my taxes, but March is kind of a busy time for accounting firms. I typically fill out a bracket anyway. This year, my boss sent around a link for our team to join. I meant to. I really did. 

Things have been a little busy. 

On the positive side, I don’t have to care about games between schools that I’ve never heard of, playing in a location I’m unaware of. And I don’t have to struggle with the moral conundrum of my alma mater BYU in the tournament. See, as a BYU alum, and a fan, I’m always torn when BYU is in the tournament. Do I need to pick them? If I pick against them, am I being disloyal? 

Typically I would pick BYU to win their first game and then lose. The problem was that BYU was normally a low seed. 

The NCAA tournament includes 64 teams. (Yeah, I know it’s really 68, but the math works better with 64 so go with me on this one.) The tournament is really four separate 16 team tournaments. In a single elimination tournament, the best team plays the worst team. The second best team plays the second worst and so on. 

In a 16 team tournament that means that the #1 seed plays the #16. Number 2 plays #15 and so on down to the #8 playing the #9 team. The winners from the first set of games, called the first round, move on to the second round. And the winner of the #1/#16 game plays the winner of the #8/#9 game. Basically, the best team gets to play the worst team in each round. 

Here’s my problem with BYU. If BYU is a #15 seed, they play the #2 seed in Round 1. If I pick them to win their first game, I’ve now knocked the #2 seed out of my bracket. As a loyal fan, it was torture every year that BYU made the tournament. Maybe you think I should have simply picked them to lose. That would help my bracket but hurt my bragging rights. I have family members who are University of Utah fans. If I’m in a tournament with them, they get to see my picks. Which would you pick? Potential tournament glory, or a year’s worth of ridicule at the hands of my Ute fan relatives?

It was almost worse than watching the actual game when BYU would lose in the first round. 

So, I didn’t skip March Madness on purpose, but it wasn’t all bad. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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