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Thursday, June 21, 2018

March Madness Upsets Have Wrecked Everyone’s Brackets

Oy. The agonizing few days remaining in March. Unless you went to a college situated in a Confederate stronghold, you probably lost interest in the NCAA tournament sometime after the tip-off of the opening games. If you’re looking for solace in the lingering NBA regular season, I hear sadists are doing good things these days. The first pitch (and subsequent 50-game suspension) of the Major League Baseball season is still hours away. Then, what is the agoraphobic sports fan left to do with the remaining moments in March?

Unless you’re the President of the United States or some kind of prognosticating gerbil, hamster, or chinchilla, your college basketball bracket is currently about as worthless as Soviet money. But don’t despair. Nostradamus would probably not have had VCU in his Final Four (and only two in 5.9 million really did!). (One wonders whether he would have been able to find truTV, either.) You probably would have needed a DeLorean to have figured Butler would be making it this far again. (Great Scott … Stevens.) Nothing short of Bill and Ted’s phone booth would have given a mere mortal any chance of predicting that Ohio State would be out in the third round. Thus, one is left with a piece of paper with tournament picks that is about as meaningless as one of those Presidential Physical Fitness participant certificates handed out for finishing the mile in under a fortnight.

Which leads us to a simple, empty, and time-wasting activity more pointless than the weigh-in before a heavyweight fight, meant to stave off the boredom stemming from March badness/sadness: figuring out what do with this misguided treasure map that, two weeks earlier, was hoped to be the ticket to a cool million. The simple answer would be to ball it up and throw it in the trash, but wouldn’t the tree have died in vain? Paper airplane? Overdone. Bathroom tissue substitute? Too injurious.

The Ides of March? One may have thought Julius Caesar got it bad, but there was still less blood shed in the Roman Senate than among the large number of brackets that I dispatched. Perhaps something constructive can be done with all these tournament picks that sank quicker than the Edmund Fitzgerald. A Duke grad may be wise enough to swap this now useless document for a sack of radishes. There’s probably a Princeton graduate skilled in origami. A paper crane might be the perfect antidote to a Final Four that now looks more abstract than a Matisse painting (or some of these references). Paper-mâché seems to be the rage among kids these days, so perhaps some sort of haberdashery could be in the works. Or, perhaps, maybe everyone can learn a lesson from the Portland Trailblazers of years past on what to do with rolling paper.

The drudgery of the final week of March. Whoever said, “The South shall rise again” probably had most of the Final Four pegged correctly. For the rest of us mere mortals, the desire exists to go General William Tecumseh Sherman on the now-meaningless brackets. And, thus the second-guessing begins. Why would anyone pick against a team whose head coach is named Smart? Rick Pitino losing to Morehead State? There has to be some kind of Karen Sypher joke there. Many people thought that Steve Fisher would do more for San Diego than Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo ever did. Duke over Michigan? Sorry, Jalen. The Fighting Irish? The Fighting Illini? Punch-drunk. The hopes of a Sweet 16 featuring the Wildcats of Kentucky, Villanova, Kansas State, and Arizona, the Bulldogs of Butler, Gonzaga, and Georgia, as well as Terriers from Boston and Wofford? Probably about an Akron Zips chance of happening. Perhaps it would be prudent to pick the Division III tournament next time around. Stick with one of the schools sporting a hyphen.

The last six Division I national basketball champions have come from south of the Mason-Dixon line. All this renewed Southern fervor has caused this author to think that maybe the name “Lee” will have some sort of renewed significance. Ostensibly, there is a greater likelihood of a ram crossing paths with a bulldog on “Animal Planet.” As the winter of discontent becomes a waste of time in March spent, a solitary piece of paper sits on the desk with red ‘X’s’ all over it staring at me, mocking my inability to prognosticate. What should be done with this useless shred of scrap? I’d tell you what I’d like to do with it…

Danny Lee has been involved in sports media for over seven years … While at UCLA, he turned his grade school doodles into a position with the Daily Bruin, and continues his diatribes to this day. You can read his contributions to Larry Brown Sports every Wednesday.

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