March’s Mad Magnolias

Magnificent Magnolia Blossoms

I was in a meeting last week at work. Carol was explaining to a group of us how to fill out a form. She was doing fine, until it came to the date. She told us to fill in today’s date, March 9th, when it was actually the eighth. Someone called her on it, to which she replied, “I hate March! You can’t blame me for wishing that it was already over. Do you know why I hate March?” One bright star dared to answer her, “March Madness?” We were all guys in the room; she was the only woman there, so it wasn’t that long a stretch. Still, he probably found his form shuffled to the bottom of the deck. I bit my tongue, not to ask her what she thought of Michigan State’s chances in this month’s NCAA basketball tournament. I mean, why press your luck?

Bracketology is the “science” of predicting the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Brackets are the one-on-one ladder of games that compose the tournament’s play. It’s all single elimination, so one loss, one bad pick, or one upset could destroy your brackets for the whole tournament. This process leads to a quick winnowing of the amateurs and after a few rounds, only the true bracketolgist is left with their brackets unbroken.

March is a month where worker productivity dips due to this basketball tournament. Advances in cell phone technology and streaming video, should make this work stoppage even greater this year. 45% of Americans fill out brackets and populate office pools across the country. Someone as clueless as me, is best off just staying quiet, but there are aids for those with a bracket phobia. ESPN offers America’s Bracket, a crowd-sourced offering that gives the neophyte, at least a mediocre chance plus protection from embarrassment.

Saint Louis will host some of the games, the Midwest portion of the sweet sixteen and elite eight. Based upon past experience, upsets breed ticket buying opportunities. Fans that had bought tickets, expecting their team to be still playing, are willing to sell at a discount. Also based upon past history, I’ll probably settle for watching the opposing team’s bands and cheerleaders duke it out in Kiener Plaza.

I will be rooting for Michigan State to go all the way. Unfortunately, Michigan State is in the West region, so even it they do go all the way, they won’t be coming to town. But Michigan and Purdue are in the Midwest. With a bit of luck, maybe one of them will make it to Saint Louis.

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