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Eliminating talking heads might calm some of the March Madness

April 06, 2011

March Madness ended in April, which makes about as much sense as anything else associated with the college basketball tournament.

I enjoy the first weekend of the tournament as much as anything in sports, but by the time the championship game rolls around, I'm pretty much exhausted by all the hype and media coverage and have turned my attention to baseball, a sport played at a speed with which I am more suited.

But this year things were a little different.

I don't think my mom would mind me telling you that she is 87; she seems to have given up aging for Lent some years back and lives up north with my brother's family.

And it was just about a month ago that Bruce called me with some chilling news: "Mom's doing a bracket."

As a general thing, I don't do March Madness brackets of my own for the simple reason that there is no point. I might as well take a $5 bill and use it as a campaign contribution for a South Carolina Democrat.

But I certainly was not going to do one if mom was in the pool, because is was a dead certainty I'd lose to her, too. I am a good sport mind you, and I would not mind losing to her in a game of hearts, scrabble or gin. But a basketball pool? I'm not that good a sport.

Mom befriended some Mormons in her life when she lived out West, so she took Brigham Young University in the first weekend. She had my school, West Virginia University, beating Clemson but not Kentucky — the reason was that if WVU won she would be happy because of me. But if Kentucky won it would be good for her pool. This was a little craftier than I might have thought mom was capable of, but, I had to admit, a no-lose strategy.

The kicker was, while having no real affiliation with Morehead State in Kentucky, she did have a friend who lived in Morehead, Minn. So she took tiny Morehead State over Big East powerhouse Louisville, and thus correctly called the biggest upset of the first full round.

After the first weekend she was in fifth place. It didn't last, although she had a serendipitous reason for picking Butler, but in the end figured it was too great a reach to rely on.

But she had a much better opening weekend than Jay Bilas. Which, of course, gave me an idea.

As I mentioned earlier, all the tournament hype tires me out and I am especially aggrieved by all the media "experts" who pick incorrectly — and then are still allowed to make more picks on the ground that they are still "experts," even thought the facts have proved otherwise.

So I would like to see a media prognostication bracket that would shadow the NCAA tournament bracket. After your fourth incorrect pick, you're booted from all ensuing media coverage. And if you make a big point about how right you are and then you're not? You're out after one bad pick.

So when Jay Bilas says Virginia Commonwealth University "doesn't pass the laugh test," he's out early. No one had a worse tournament than Dick Vitale, so we love ya baby, but see you next year.

Doug Gottlieb? No one is more pathologically wrong than him. Yet they bring him back again and again and again. After all, he's the expert.

I like all these prognosticators, I do. I enjoy their picks and their commentary. But I think there needs to be some accountability, just as there is in every profession.

Of course, if they're out when they're wrong, by the final, there wouldn't be many talking heads left. That wouldn't break my heart, either.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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