Office pool is nothing but pure madness

March 16, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

I am typing these words on my laptop this afternoon with one hand. In my other hand I have a $5 bill, which I am holding over the flame on the gas stove, watching it disappear in a curl of blue flame. This is one fin those NCAA basketball tournament office-pool monkeys aren't going to get their hands on.

I've got better things to do than try to figure out who's better, Gonzaga or Xavier.

Actually, that's not completely true. I probably don't have anything better to do, but if I enter the pool it will be the biggest waste of $5 since Starship Troopers.

I know just enough about college basketball to be dangerous, and the worst thing you can do when you are filling out your bracket is to think. Let's see, this year marks the 15th anniversary of the first time a number 15 seed (Richmond) knocked off a number 2 seed (Syracuse). Winthrop is within 300 miles of Richmond and has the same number of letters in its name. Withrop is seeded 15th and playing a number 2 seed, Tennessee. The school color of both Syracuse and Tennessee is orange. The school colors of both Richmond and Winthrop are unknown by me.


Coincidence? I don't see how.

Therefore, I would take Winthrop and I would be an idiot, because Winthrop will probably get stomped by 20 points. Or worse, by one point. That would mean I was right about Winthrop being a good team and basically just as good as Tennessee. But are you rewarded for your insight? No, you are not, and all the know-nothings who picked Tennessee just because they are the higher seed get the point, and you don't.

This is why I choose not to participate, because these people always win. The only time they pay any attention to college basketball whatsoever is in March, come tournament time. They are rewarded and more serious students of the game such as myself are not. It's like a Bible scholar getting beaten out of heaven by the guy who only goes to church on Easter.

And half the time, the winner is the girl in the data processing pool who picks Murray State because she liked Caddyshack, Belmont because her daughter rides a horse and Hampton because they have good continental breakfasts.

There is no bigger blow to a guy's ego than watching that scoresheet come out after the first week of the tournament to find out he's losing by 30 points to a graphic artist named Ashley.

What does she know about basketball? Zip. You will never hear her at the coffee machine arguing passionately that there is no way George Washington should have slipped to an eight seed.

True story: Monday night, I was offering up some keen bracket analysis for my brother. Something along the lines of, "I really like Duke, not because Redick rediscovered his shot, but because Paulus has really cut down on the number of freshman mistakes he was making early in the season, but I don't think there's any way the Zags as a three are going to make any noise because Indiana takes them out in the second round, unless the Hoosiers lose to San Diego State, which they might because the game is being played in Salt Lake City and playing in the Mountain West, the Aztecs are used to the altitude..."

You know, real insightful stuff. But instead of sending the e-mail to my brother, I mistakenly sent it to the Antisports in High Heels. She doesn't even know there's a tournament going on. She thinks the NCAA was responsible for the Civil Rights Act and that Adam Morrison sang "L.A. Woman."

Never mind what she wrote back, but the point is, you give her a bracket and a Sharpie and I guarantee she would clean my clock. And worst of all, when she won, it would mean absolutely nothing to her. Maybe if American Idol came with brackets, she would start to get the idea, but probably not. We were out of town three weeks ago, and the only condition I put on the trip was that I got control of the hotel TV from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. so I could watch Duke-North Carolina, which might be the most exciting event in all of sports. For the first time in four years, she went to sleep before I did.

But if you must fill out a bracket, even if you know deep down you are going to lose, here's what you do. Pick the four teams you hate the most and pencil them into the Final Four.

You will still be wrong and you will still lose, but the fact that the teams you despise are out of the competition will ease the pain of losing to Ashley.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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