I sat in disgust as Marshall Henderson shot the Rebels of Old Miss to the “third” round of the NCAA tournament. I wasn’t pissed off because Henderson now has the ability to continue his best new douche in the sports world campaign. I wasn’t mad that LeBron tweeted that Henderson has the greenest light in the history of basketball.
I was furious because it was barely two days into March Madness and my bracket was toast. Every year it seems to get worse, even though I spend a relatively small amount of time in filling out my bracket, I still have an expectation to do well. This year I had Wisconsin making a semi surprising run to the Final Four because I didn’t believe in Gonzaga, and thought that the Badgers could upset the Buckeyes in the elite eight.
What the hell was I thinking?
This was the question that I pondered for 30 seconds before turning my attention to the Temple-N.C State game. As the day progressed, I couldn’t get the images of Wisconsin’s attempt to run a division I offense out of my head.
A 7-for-30 performance from beyond the three point line.
A shot chart that makes a murder crime scene look mild.
Ben Brust and Sideshow Bob’s nephew, Mike Bruesewitz, essentially handed me a lighter and said you can burn your bracket now, but we’re not allowed to pay the entry fees for your pools. Thanks NCAA for taking my money and not giving back!
I’m convinced that the court crews had to change the rims before the next game started, because the one that Wisconsin shot at in the second half probably looks worse that what Amanda Bynes wants Drake to do to her vagina.
It was one of the most frustrating halves to watch in college basketball history, not because I’m a fan of Wisconsin, or because I or someone in my family went to school there. It was excruciating because, I can now no longer enjoy the thrills of March Madness the same way I could have if the Badgers would have played offense at anything but an eye bleeding level for those last 20 minutes.
As I stared at my work computer I wondered, why did I even fill out a bracket this year? I could have just handed over $50 bucks to a stranger and actually felt good about where that money was going (as I traveled through New York City I reconsidered this sentence). Now the next time that I run into a friend who was in the same pool I’ll have to hear about how bad my pick was.
Thanks asshole, I know how bad it was.
I began to wonder if we could live in a world where brackets don’t exist, and we could just talk about this tournament without bringing up how (insert team here) killed the opportunity to win a couple hundred bucks. I quickly realized that this will never happen.
A perfect example of why is Florida Gulf Coast. What they did to Georgetown in the “second” round (I HATE referring to the round of 64 as the second round) was nothing short of remarkable. This is a college at its infantile stages defeating a Big East powerhouse. And they didn’t just beat them, they out played them in every aspect of the game. The only reason the game appeared to be somewhat close was due to the Hoyas sudden outburst of threes from the seven minute mark on. The amazing feat continued as the Eagles defeated the San Diego St. Aztecs in the “third” round, in doing so Dunk City became the first 15 seed in tournament history to make the Sweet 16. They’re one win away from causing true havoc, as millions of people have selected Florida to move onto the Elite Eight and beyond.
There’s two ways to look at FGCU. Either you’re thrilled by their binge of athletic dunks that even Cinderella is jealous of, or you’re going to say this quote years from now:
“That’s the team that killed my bracket.”
This is root of all evil in bracketology. We don’t celebrate upset victories, we look down upon them because they destroy a chance to win some petty pool. I know money makes the world go round, but I think March Madness is at a point of no return. Every major outlet has hours and hours of coverage on the art of filling out your brackets. I’ll now always remember the New Mexico Lobos as the team Seth Davis picked to make the Final Four, only to be upset by a school that had never won a game in the NCAA tournament.
Davis got killed on twitter, not because it was a bad pick (side note: it’s hard to put the blame on Davis and say it was a bad pick, due to the way this college basketball season has unfolded.), he got killed on social media because millions of dopes mindlessly took the prediction and applied it to their bracket. They cried foul, and abused their social media privileges, all because of one mistake by a guy who gets paid to cover the sport for a living. Give the guy a break and do your own research if you’re going to fork over a $10 or $20 with your bracket.
If our sports culture wasn’t so obsessed with the idea of gambling the NCAA tournament would be a vastly different monster. The CBS/Turner collaboration wouldn’t have paid a combined $11 billion to air every game of the tournament for 14 years. Sure it would still be a fun event to watch as it is the bridge to one of the best times on the sports calendar, but we wouldn’t apply a negative label on schools that have ripped our brackets to shreds.
I’ll probably never look at Wisconsin the same way. If they happen to make the tournament next year, I’ll immediately click on the other team’s name to advance. I won’t second guess it. I won’t even blink. I’ll subconsciously root against them because of what happened this year. All because of some trivial prize.
I ask you, is it even worth it?
Follow me @Scottdargis_NBC