I just completed my first bracket, and holy shit.
It starts with the utmost confidence. The first team you see is Duke vs. BumFuck U/Jagaloon State. You click “Duke” and you’re rollin’
It’s like a test you barely studied for, nail the first question, and start thinking, “I can do this.”
Then you turn the page to question 2 and you see 8 VCU and 9 UCF. You realize you should have studied and start to get a little nervous.
I mean all you know about either team is that UCF has a 7’6 guy named Taco, for god sakes.
No matter, there are some more easy ones. You skip a few pages and get to 2 Michigan State vs. 15 Bradley. Easy. I knew a kid named Bradley once at summer camp. Total drip. Spartans, lock it in.
Now you realize, “Ok, lets start with the obvious ones and move to the more difficult ones.” Easy enough, right? WRONG! The next pick you go to is 16 Gardner-Webb vs. UVA. The same UVA that lost to a 16 seed last year.
But lightning doesn’t strike twice, right? You take UVA. You cross off the rest of the 1 and 2 seeds, but then there’s Tennessee and you get a little suspicious.
You remember they were the last remaining undefeated team this season, but even during that streak you thought, “they aren’t for real.” Did you watch any of their games? No. But it’s a gut feeling.
But what are you supposed to do? Not take a 2 seed to win? You have too, you’ll just make sure they’ll lose in the next round. This is future you’s problem.
The rest of the first round is a whirlwind. All these seeds which you inherently think are the end-all-be-all towards team ranking, all these team’s you know nothing about. It’s overwhelming.
Do I go with my gut? My gut has led me to some pretty questionable decisions before…
How about fate? Do you just flip a coin? No, that’ll just freak you out more.
Maybe you go to your girlfriend. She has no idea what she’s talking about, but that tends to help during bracket season. But then again, you can’t let her know you want to hear her opinion, so that option is off the table.
Maybe turn to God? The guy, historically, has a lot of answers. However, if I win after doing that, I don’t know if I could honor the weekly visits to his house I’d likely promise.
At the end of the first round, you have to stop yourself from second guessing and power through.
If you have a 1 seed lose in the next round, you simply hate that team, and won’t regret getting that one wrong.
That 2 seed you reluctantly advanced to the next round only to bounce them? Yeah, they’re playing Iowa now. I don’t need to watch an Iowa game to know what they play like. It’s Iowa. And before you know it, that 2 seed you hate is in the Sweet 16.
You go through round after round, watching every promise you made to yourself crumble, until you make it to the Final Four.
You look at your options and think to yourself…
How in the world did you wind up with Villanova, Oregon, Syracuse, and Nevada in the Elite 8? There’s no way that’s happening. What even IS happening!?
So you start over, saying, “I’m going to be a bit more logical this time.”
But you don’t and you won’t, not until 10am on Thursday anyway.
At the end of the day you’ll pick chalk. You have too. You don’t want to be the one who has to tell people “Yeah I had Belmont in my Elite 8” as they’re losing by 20 in the first round.
You don’t pick a bracket to make yourself happy, you do it to be the least amount of sad possible.
The life of a sports fan.