Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ascent Into Madness

With no disrespect intended to any of the eight schools who played Tuesday night and last night in the "First Four" - a trail that Virginia Commonwealth University blazed all the way to the Final Four in 2011 - at or about 12:00 P.M. (EDT) today the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship kicks off for all intents and purposes.  Irrespective of what Shaka Smart and his Rams accomplished two years ago, for the purists among us it is the four-day Bacchanalia during which the field is winnowed down from sixty-four to sixteen that represents what this tournament is all about.   By midnight Sunday, wastebaskets across the country will be occupied by the torn-up shards of what had seemed - a scant ninety-six hours earlier - to be a lead-pipe cinch winning Bracket.  If history is any indicator, mine will be among them. 

My Alma mater is in the field this year - as we were last year.  In Boulder, back-to-back appearances for the men's team in the NCAA field is kind of a big deal.  Prior to Coach Boyle's bunch turning the trick this year, it has last been accomplished in the time of Camelot a half-century ago.  The Buffaloes are the #10 seed in the Eastern Regional.  Friday afternoon at or about 4:40 EDT they will play their first game against the #7 seed, the Fighting Illini of Illinois.  All I know about Illinois is that among their twenty-two wins this season are wins against Gonzaga, Butler, Ohio State and Indiana.  That is not a bad quartet of victories to have on your resume.  I shall root hard for my Buffs - as I always do - to win on Friday afternoon.  Whether they shall or not, I have no idea.  Sports Illustrated has picked them to win.   What does SI know about college hoops you might ask?  Fair question.  Again, I have no idea.  However, SI is the publication that had the smarts to put Kate Upton on the cover of its Swimsuit Issue in back-to-back years.  Clearly there are people sporting thinking caps running that magazine. 

By noon today my desk shall be inundated with completed Brackets and $20.00 entry fees from those who participate in the annual March Madness Pool I run at my office.  At the risk of disappointing any and all who might want to fink on a lawyer for doing something "illegal", there is nothing illegal about it.  While my responsibilities as the one who oversees the Pool are all-encompassing, there is no compensation for my labor.  The Pool is winner-take-all.   If I succeed in getting fifty entries by the tip of today's first game, then on April 9 the winner will receive $1,000.  Whether he or she reports that windfall as "income" to the good folks at Internal Revenue I know not and care even less.  Among the responsibilities that I do not take on as administrator of the Pool is that of Mommy/Daddy for the adult participants.  

In two decades of running a March Madness Pool I have never come close to winning.  I doubt this year shall be any different.  What shall be different for me though is that this year represents my swan song in the Pool business.  Running it has always been a labor of love but these past few years the former has badly outweighed the latter.  Maybe in my final go-round fate shall smile her fickle smile upon me....

....and maybe Kentucky will actually show up to play its first-round NIT game against Robert Morris.  The great John Wooden preached, "Failure to prepare is preparing to fail."  Sage advice Coach.  Sage advice indeed.  


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