Every year I complete an NCAA Bracket for the men’s basketball tournament and enter an “office pool” (usually a $3 bet). And every year I come in close to the bottom, never winning. Not even once. For those unfamiliar with Bracketology, this once-a-year tournament typically brings big surprises, with teams that are “favored” often losing to “underdogs.” Over the decades I have been alive to witness the incredible the action, many Cinderella Stories have played out before the watching eyes of millions. It is always exciting.
But I never win.
This year, I thought I would try a different strategy. Over the years, I had heard of entrants in office pools choosing winners by methods seemingly unrelated to basketball strength… like team mascot, team name. Even songs. It seems no science exists to choosing the winners. So, I figured, why not try something new…why let my children pick the teams this year? Could be a winning strategy, maybe?
Last week, my two oldest daughters and I sat down to consider each game. As we deliberated on who would win each match-up, I recorded as the girls seemed to choose based on whatever association they could make with the teams. “Let’s pick Yale,” my oldest said, “I want to go to Yale.” Then, “Oh, Syracuse? That’s where Patrick is from! Let’s pick them to win.” And, “Buffalo?! We love buffaloes! They’re so cute!” And so forth (Buffalo was picked to go to the Final Four, by the way). They looked at me for approval each time. And each time I nodded, saying, “Sure. You girls pick ’em.” Eagerly, they did so.
After the first round of games, we checked our bracket. The girls had picked 23 out of 32 games correctly. Many of them upsets. Hmm, I thought…that doesn’t seem too bad, does it? But the next round brought some key losses.
Yesterday, walking into a crowded teacher lunchroom, I located the standings of our staff pool on the wall, near the door. As usual, it looked like around 25 or so entrants had tried their luck this year. Names were listed in order of most points to least. Scanning the list, I searched for my name. Then I found it.
Second to last.