The odds are against us, and I know that. But I will admit, every year when I fill out my NCAA bracket, I hope it is my year. I think it is my year. I believe it is my year. After all, who hasn’t been afflicted by the Gambler’s Fallacy at least once in their lives? For nearly twenty-five years (give or take a few), I have printed out or grabbed a black and white tournament bracket from the photocopied stack in the faculty room; and with hope and a prayer, I pore over the possibilities that will lead me to victory, to the top of a pool of hopefuls.
No, I do not predict game outcomes based on any real knowledge, as time to actually watch much regular season play or develop any informed opinions eludes me annually. Not that “informed opinions” would help, anyway. Rather, a belief that my blind selection process will, this year, produce a winning combination always seems to spark a scintillating and seductive hope. One of these years, it is going to be me, I just know it. But truth be told, this is a bit like turning off all the lights in an enormous room, throwing a marble, and believing I can walk straight to it. Yeah, really not much chance there.
As the kids filed into school yesterday, I saw Mike. Mike is our man who generously collects brackets and maintains a running score of everyone’s college basketball divinations. Dressed in his typical sweat suit and sneakers, I noticed him standing in the hallway near my office, further from the gymnasium than I typically see him. Now’s my chance to glean an update, I thought. “Hey Mike,” I said, eyebrows raised, hope glinting in my eyes, “how am I looking in the tournament pool?” Mike turned his head to face me, smiled, and just shook his head. My heart sunk. I swallowed. “Am I . . . at the bottom?” I asked. Mike headed toward the nurse’s office. Over his shoulder, he said, “No. But close.”
Next year will be my year.