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NCAA Tournament talk brings out some of the lamest cliches in broadcasting

If you have ever happened upon a big dance, we would like to hear from you. If you know someone who has had their ticket punched, please let us know. Has your bubble burst lately? If it has, perhaps you should consult a gastroenterologist or, barring that, maybe a shaman. For some reason, however, these trite expressions of nebulousness are dusted off each year around the first week of March in the NCAA’s Pavlovian way to drum up interest for its annual four-week basketball tournament.

Yes, folks it’s that time of year again: Everything is in full bloom, the swallows fly north, and thought-provoking discourse flies south. The NCAA begins its annual march into the forefront of the national consciousness, while brackets are busted and Cinderellas leave their slippers somewhere in Dayton, or East Rutherford.

During my enthralling college journey en route to a communications degree — in other words, a time of heavy chemical experimentation — I learned the seemingly meaningless concept known as the magic bullet theory (not to be confused with Plaxico Burress’ alibi). I didn’t know it then, seeing as how I only took on the major to meet the kind of women who had aspirations of becoming weather girls, but that theory has served me well since I am now using it in a treatise about sports no less. How many times have you watched an excoriation of the NCAA Tournament by some talking head analyzing the field or probable field, and the expressions “Big Dance”, “on the bubble”, “dark horse”, or “tournament resume”, among others have been used? You’ve undoubtedly stumbled across the anachronistic concept of March sports talk novelty. My friends, you have been shot with the magic bullet seemingly prophesied by my professor in Comm 10.

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March Madness Has Officially Arrived

Every year, during the month of March (and apparently a couple days into April) a condition afflicts many Americans. It is a condition that has yet to be recognized by the AMA despite its prevalence and the number of sick-days taken for ill-contrived reasons (butter-finger, double dribbling, and “too full to stand up” are not exactly textbook definitions of legitimate medical excuses). Statistics show that, every year the NCAA basketball tournament begins, man hours are lost in this country due to sloth, laziness, and phony malaise. Of course, if they included the other 11 months in this study, it would probably show things are par for the course. Each year, 64 65 68 teams in Division I college basketball come together to not only experience such exotic locales as Dayton, Tampa, and Tucson (I hear Newark is lovely in the fall), but to bring home the geometrical oddity that is the National Championship trophy. Meanwhile, the rest of society is intently watching to see if Northern Colorado is worthy of placing a tax refund-sized bet on them pulling off an upset in a way only a school from Greeley, Colorado can.

It seems like everyone, regardless of whether they know that Long Island is actually a school and not just an alcoholic beverage, is filling out a bracket these days (the exception hopefully being Rick Neuheisel). Even the President of the United States made his picks in years past. Fortunately for him, he did not have to decide who would win a matchup between American and Liberty University. Talk about an executive decision! Each year, America’s dreams of seeing Wofford hoist the national title are dashed about five minutes into the opening of the tournament. “How’s your bracket doing?” becomes the familiar refrain from the folks who are staking a claim on winning millions filling out a bracket with a Final Four comprised of teams from the MAC, MAAC, SWAC, and WAC … Now that’s whack …?

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March Madness Bracket Challenge with a Salary Cap Is as Difficult as it Gets

We’re running a pool here at LBS full of prizes that you can join, and the scoring will be pretty standard. Most March Madness pools work pretty simply — you make your picks and then receive increased amounts of points for each round your teams advance. Some pools have points increase by one each round while others double each round. There are some other more complicated ways of doing the scoring for brackets, but nothing comes close to the challenge of doing a March Madness pool with a salary cap.

My uncle first introduced me to this system last year and it blew my mind. In this system, you get a $25 salary cap and have to pick teams based on a fixed price scale. In order to ensure you can’t load up on favorites, you must spend a specified amount of money in each price range indicated by the red writing below:

This is similar to a confidence pool in that it forces you to choose the teams you think will have the most success, and it forces you to pick upsets you might not ordinarily do. Again, this is a twist on the standard bracket challenges one typically enters, and it was one of the most difficult ones I’ve done. If you think you and your friends are ready to step your game up, try out one of these salary cap systems next time to truly test your skills.

SNL Selection Sunday ‘Actual Madness’ Spoof (Video)

In the same way they killed it with Brett Favre’s Wrangler Jeans commercial, I thought SNL did a great job with this Selection Sunday spoof video.  My personal favorite parts were Greg Gumbel’s mannerisms and this line:

“There’s no question that Charlie Sheen is the front-runner here, driving the crazy train at full throttle.  The fear with Sheen is has he peaked too soon?  I mean he’s done in two weeks what it took Michael Jackson 15 years to do.”

Would 96 Teams Work? Only One Way to Find Out

Almost every sports fan I know gets excited when they flip their calender from Feburary to March and realizes that March Madness is just a few weeks away. Even though this year’s tournament isn’t even over yet, the NCAA has already started talking about the future. Nothing is set in stone, but the NCAA is looking to expand the tournament from its current 65 team field to one that included 96 teams.

I’m not quite sure what to think about this. In one way, I think that 65 teams is quite enough for this tournament. I think that it allows for some of the best basketball games to be played because you’ve got some of the best teams in the nation playing some teams who aren’t quite as good but at least put up a fight. So what would happen if the other teams were included? Would it even be fair to let some of these teams into the tournament when they might not have a very good shot? I just don’t know.

On the other hand, the expansion would be good. In the proposed format, the NCAA tournament would absorb the 32-team NIT, and that could result in some good competition for NCAA teams. Plus, inviting more teams to the Big Dance would give several more student athletes a chance for fame and the opportunity to live a dream.

I can’t seem to make up my mind about whether this would be a good thing or bad thing for the NCAA but I guess their is only one way to find out — try it. As long as the excitement of the March Madness continues, I guess it couldn’t hurt.

Sources:
NCAA: 96-team field is the best fit [ESPN]

Why Your March Madness Bracket Sucks

Ah March Madness, the time of year when we scramble to finish our brackets confident that we have chosen the biggest upset in the history of college basketball. We stand assured that our number 16 seed will take it all the way. We ignore the “you are insane” looks we receive from friends and co-workers when we submit our bracket and prepare our windpipes to laugh at them because we were once doubted. Then, inevitably, we get knocked out in the first round.

I’ve been doing my research because I too want to be the psychic of NCAA tournament predictions picking Murray State and Old Dominion, so I figured there must be some tips to follow. Surely, someone must know the answer as to how to my bracket better and my wallet bigger. There’s lots of tips out there and I’ve complied what I think the best ones. Basically, if you didn’t follow these, your bracket might suck.

1. Use your head, not your heart

Just because you like a school, or you have a connection to it (a family member goes there, you’re an alumni) does not mean that they will win anything. Do your homework and make sure that emotions are not outweighing logic.

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CBS’ New Design Defeats the Purpose of the Boss Button

I’m lucky enough to work in a field where my job is to watch, study, analyze, and report on games. For most of the world unfortunately, it’s a different story. It’s pretty common knowledge that countless hours and dollars of work productivity are lost during March Madness because every breathing sports fan is huddled over a computer trying to see how their brackets are doing. Naturally most work places would frown upon such wasteful activities. That’s why CBS designed the “boss button” as something you could click on at work that would change the computer screen from basketball to a spreadsheet in order to make it look like you were doing work. It was a great idea and something all sports fans could appreciate. But now it appears as if CBS has entirely forgotten the entire purpose of the boss button. Here’s what the 2009 version looks like according to Awful Announcing (click on image to enlarge).

The spreadsheet involves nothing but basketball information which would be a total burn if anyone took a look at it from a semi-close distance. Worst of all, it appears as if they sold ads on the Boss Button spreadsheet to Comcast. Dude, you so cannot sell ads on something that’s supposed to help workers sneak away from the corporate world! It’s like they’re just asking to get people busted!