The NCAA men’s basketball tournament may or may not be over. I’m obviously not exactly a slave to athletic schedules. This will become increasingly apparent as you read on.
Even with my limited knowledge/interest/involvement of/in/with the tournament, the terms “final four” and “brackets” are not foreign to me. For example, I realize much is made of filling in those “brackets” to determine the “final four.” To some people, this activity approaches the importance of terms like “oxygen” and “cardiac function.” I am not one of those people. In the tiny print to the far left and far right of the “brackets” are the names of schools of which I have never heard. These mystery schools include Farley Dickinson and St. Marys. I thought St. Marys was an all-women’s college in Indiana which speaks legions about either my familiarity with higher education or the competitiveness of Hoosier females.
The folks who do take this seriously have all sorts of elaborate methods for determining who to pick to win in each match-up. They examine in minute detail the talents and shortcomings of various players. They look at the schedule already played and the successes and failures there-in. They look at the coaching staffs and injury lists and three-pointer percentages.
Then there are the rest of us. We do not, to belabor the painfully apparent, really care who wins or loses or makes the cut or sits at home and pouts. It’s (gasp) just a game to us. Still, some of the uncaring do go to the trouble of filling out all those little lines because we have some unexplained need to be part of a group. To be part of a group in filling out the little lines, a system is required. I have discussed the casual bracket-filler mindset with several people. Listed below are my favorite methods of picking winners as reported by them.
Method No. 1. Colors. Before starting, each possible color must be assigned a value. For instance, red is five, blue is four, yellow is three, orange is two, and black is one. Purple gets zero because not even 7-foot-2-inches impossibly toned athletes look good in purple. White also gets zero points because of lack of imagination in choosing a color. So, if team No. 1’s school colors are blue and yellow, that team has a color value of seven. If team No. 2’s colors are red and white, that team has a color value of five. Therefore, team No. 1 is picked as the winner. Any team with the colors purple and white is doomed before tip-off.
Another highly scientific way to choose winners is the mascot method. Again, animals must be assigned a relative worth. Bulldogs might be better than huskies. Bobcats might be superior to tigers except in actual face-to-face four-legged combat. Mustangs are wonderful creatures. Horned toads are not. Terrapins, hoyas, and other obscure animals are purples.
Some people make gross generalizations such as cats are always better than dogs which is patently crazy. Eventually, in using this system, one is forced to assign a value to dozens of human-like creatures. Nitro the Knight is clearly a person, as is a pirate. More often than makes sense, you come across a team with a very odd mascot name. There were at least two teams in the tournament with Big Blue as a nickname to which I say, a Big Blue what? Balloon? Blouse? Tennis shoes? Or, in the case of Boise State, big blue ugly football turf.
As with anything this vital and life-changing, there ought to be an opportunity for extra credit. So I say the University of California-Irving mascot — Peter the Anteater — and the Delta State Fighting Okra deserve not only the pity vote (think of the poor cheerleaders … what rhymes with okra? And how hard can okra really be expected to fight?), but also extra consideration when pondering the winner of a game. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball for whom ironically no team is named, would thank you.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.