Friday, March 18, 2011

Riding the Escalator of Madness

The Madness of March is upon us. I am again this year the organizer of a March Madness Pool. I could be wrong but I think that I have run a pool for the NCAA Tournament in one form or another for the past decade and a half or so. I certainly do not do it to show off my prognostication skills. In all of the years in which I have organized one, I have never gotten close to winning. This year I have ratcheted up the possibility of inflicting embarrassment upon my own self. Annually I finish in second place - well in my own family anyway - in the pool, somewhere in the pack significantly behind Rob. Margaret and Suz both decided to give it a whirl this March. All that means for me is I likely have traded my second place familial finish for a fourth-place one.

I was considering picking my Alma mater to win the title on my bracket. NCAA Committee be damned! That would have been foolhardy of course seeing as they are not even in the tournament, which greatly enhances the likelihood of them not losing any games but also unfortunately makes them worse than a zillion to one shot of making it to the Final Four. I was pleased that they won a game in the NIT on Wednesday night and I care not that it was against that long-time hoops powerhouse Texas Southern. The Buffs play again tonight against the University of California. If they win this evening, then this year's team will establish a new school record for victories in a season. The achievement is significant to the kids and the coaches in the program - and to those of us who root for them from afar......even if a win tonight will establish a new high-water mark of 23 wins, which is a total that teams such as Duke and Kansas and Kentucky aspire to attain annually by the end of February and not the end of the season. Relativity is a wonderful thing.

Picking CU to win the NCAA title would have been idiotic in view of their non-participation in this year's tournament. Being crazy but not an idiot, I shied away from picking them of course. Instead I chose San Diego State to win it all. Other than knowing that (a) NFL Hall-of-Famer Marshall Faulk played college football at San Diego State; (b) Steve Fisher who coached Michigan to the NCAA Championship in 1989 (when Seton Hall got royally screwed at game's end) is the coach; (c) the school's nickname is the Aztecs; and (d) San Diego is not actually a state, I know nothing else about my new favorite team. I could not, even if my life and his life depended upon it, name a single player. I have never seen them play - and I am not limiting that response to this year's team. I have NEVER seen a basketball game in my life in which one of the two combatants wore either SDSU or AZTECS across his chest.

Why wager an Andrew Jackson on what is clearly such a well thought out and informed choice? Why not? The pool I run rewards only the player who finishes first. Last night, while perusing the sheets of all of this year's participants, I found scant little love for San Diego State on anyone's bracket but mine. If they flame out early, then I end up this year where I end up every year, which is out of the money. But if they win, then my faith will have been rewarded.

And besides, what is the sense of engaging in madness if you cannot bring a bit of silliness along for the ride? It is certainly not impossible for San Diego State to win it all. Their record at the time I selected them was 32-2. Other than losing two games to the Stormin' Mormons of BYU, they were unscathed. They entered the NCAA tournament on a five-game winning streak and undefeated in the month of March. Basketball is a sport in which coaches love to speak to death about the importance of the "big mo". The Aztecs have that covered.

You may want to bring your own water to the victory parade however. One never can be too safe.


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