Butter my Busted Brackets for Breakfast—They’re Toast: Watching the NCAAs and Fearing For My Soul

This year billionaire Warren Buffet famously offered a billion-dollar purse to any individual picking a perfect set of wins in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It’s no news by now that Mr. BigBucks learned he wouldn’t have to pay out…after the first full day of games, back two weeks ago. That’s how unpredictable this stuff is. But my own picks were so bad, I think I actually OWE Warren that billion.

Wonder if he’ll take a check.

It’s not that I didn’t see upsets coming, ok? I DID. I just chose the WRONG ONES. Case in point: Twelfth seeds are always matched up against Fives in the first round. I picked NC State, a 12, to beat St. Louis, a 5, based on my SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE as a NC native who had just watched State beat the juggernaut of Syracuse in the ACC tourney.

In the first two days, three of the four 12-seeds beat the 5s. Guess which one DIDN’T?

Still pretty grumpy about that.

It went on from there. Every upset I called didn’t happen; every dominant team I “bet” on found a way to lose. I’m pretty sure they did it on purpose.

But I should back up here, pleading hyperbole (a common ailment among writers in general and bloggers in particular). First of all, not ALL my teams lost. Second of all, I didn’t bet.

See, when my own team goes out–as Carolina did in the second round, in a game too well-played for us to feel too sad about–and my brackets no longer hold any joyous anticipation for me, that’s when the wet blanket good angel of conscience joins the party.

What are you doing? These are kids playing with a ball! And they’re supposed to be students, not over-hyped vessels of steroids and future marketing! Or, worse, gateways to gambling addiction!

(Courtesy Chad Cooper, Flikr Creative Commons)

(Courtesy Chad Cooper, Flikr Creative Commons)

Last week’s editorial in the Christian Science Monitor (I’m not a Christian Scientist, but their magazine ROCKS) discussed exactly that: the rise in gambling among people who would never otherwise place a bet, caused by the huge mainstreaming of March Madness. So much for my giddiness over the Final Four. Luckily I had none left anyway.

Of course, the only reason I’m having these spasms of conscience now is because my own Madness has turned to Sadness.If my team were still in the Dance, don’t even think of lecturing me! Or at least wait till mid-April. Yes, I’m a total hypocrite–but at least I’m an honest one.

I am comforting myself with some gems from the past couple of weeks. I couldn’t find YouTubes for any of them, unfortunately, so you’ll just have to imagine…

North Carolina’s Xylina McDaniels making a shot from a sitting position beneath the basket after getting knocked off her feet

Louisville’s senior star Shoni Schimmel beating her male counterpart in the three-point shooting contest (part of the “hoop”la leading up to both the men’s and women’s Final Four)

And my favorite, which wasn’t even a sports moment: this ad. It’s from some network provider, I think–and I guess it must have failed in its purpose ’cause I can’t remember the name. But it features a couple of nerdy-looking guys installing some connections in the ceiling of a nondescript office.

(Non-classically-beautiful but adorably clean-cut) Woman, startled by nerdy technician in ceiling: Oh! What are you doing?

(Potentially-handsome-despite-large-glasses-and-lack-of-social-confidence) Man, hanging down from ceiling: **explains his job** then…

Man (in shy monotone): Did it hurt? When you fell from heaven?

Woman (blushing delightedly, looking down): …A little…

Man (yanked back up into ceiling by annoyed co-worker): Sorry!

But we all know they meet for sodas later, right?

OK, this has NOTHING to do with basketball, or gambling, or the sad state of my conscience. But it does have to do with March Madness. Because among all the gazillions of ads, both TV and radio, that I have muted over the past month, this is the only one where I turn UP the volume. Hey, I’m not contributing to American commercialism–I’m enjoying a love story! My conscience feels better already.

Got a March Madness story? Best game, best moment, best ad? General rage or simply bafflement? Let us hear.