Listen to Yourself: No NCAA Tournament Bracket

Do not do an NCAA Tournament bracket this year.

Phew, there I said it.  But you know you think it every year.  “Next year I’m not going to do a bracket.  I not only lose money, I don’t even enjoy the tournament anymore because I’m too worried about that rogue 13-seed that I picked to go to the Elite 8, and, damn it, they were knocked out in the first round.”  It’s a yearly thought.  We’ve all been there.

This is the year to actually follow through with your thoughts.  Don’t be ashamed of it.  You’re not alone.

We all know that filling out a bracket is a crapshoot in any year let alone this one. This season has been wildly unpredictable, and the tournament looks to be no different.

The 12-seeds are always intriguing candidates to pull off upsets and they certainly look strong this year.  Oregon, Akron, California, and Ole Miss is a strong batch of 12-seeds.  The 11-seeds – Bucknell, Minnesota, Belmont, and Saint Mary’s (my play-in choice) – all have a good chance at opening round wins themselves.  Don’t count out the 13s either.  Nate Wolters of South Dakota State is one of the top scorers in the country, and the winner of the Boise State and La Salle could make noise in the tournament as well.  Heck, who knows, even Harvard, Davidson, and Valparaiso are 14-seeds with a shot.

Also, brackets are infuriating.  How often does it happen that the guy in the annual office pool who gloats about watching so many games and claims to know so much ends up finishing in dead last because he overthought every single selection?  Not only that, but how many times does the guy in the office who hasn’t watched a full college basketball game since he was in college end up winning?

I would say it happens on an, eh, annual freaking basis.

And fellas, what’s more infuriating than your girlfriend, wife, or significant other beating you and they don’t even watch college basketball or any other sport for that matter.  Every year you give them one rule: 1-seeds will always beat 16-seeds then after that rule, there are no rules.  They go on picking based on prettiest name or nicest uniform colors, and when they win, they give you that all-too-familiar look that says “this isn’t that hard, you loser.”  I’ll admit, I’ve been there and I know I’m not the only one.

But this is the year that, who knows, maybe a 16-seed will beat a 1-seed.  Western Kentucky is a solid basketball team and James Madison is riding a tidal wave of momentum.  That’s how crazy (read: awesome) college basketball has been this year.  No conference, no team, is immune to the madness.  It just makes the tournament all the more enjoyable.

However, filling out a bracket this year is an enjoyment killer, satisfaction suicide.  Filling out a bracket this year is inviting that one friend you have that is such a fun-sucker, but you have to begrudgingly invite him places because your other friend always has to be the nice guy.  You never ever end up having a good time.

If you don’t do a bracket this year, then I commend you for finally listening to that voice inside your head telling you every single year in mid-March that it’s probably not a good idea.  If you do happen to do a bracket, please keep the gripes about your misfortunes off of everybody’s Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter timelines.

Seriously, what else did you expect?  If you have watched any basketball this year, you know that filling out a bracket is destined to end up in failure.  And we’re talking failure that’s worse than last year’s bracket failure.  Go check your bracket from last year, you probably picked, what, three of the Elite 8 teams correctly.  And think about it; this year will be worse.  Oh the humanity!

This is the year to stand up.  Stand up to your friends and coworkers pandering you to fork over $50 to enter your bracket into a pool.  Stand up to that ominous “Printable Bracket” button on every page of all your go-to sports news sites that looks so tantalizing. Deep down you know that the button really leads to more nights picking up your buddy’s bar tab than glee because you picked some unfathomable upset, while he made the sensible choice to go with the favorite.

Instead, this is the year to sit back and enjoy.  Enjoy the unpredictability, the parity, and the pinnacle of basketball bliss.  Enjoy not having to bear the burden of getting irrationally angry when something incredible happens in a game’s waning seconds because it busts your bracket.  Leave the madness of March to the players and coaches.  Save yourself the anguish and mental torture, do not fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket this year.

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