Everybody Into The Pool!

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Basketball cartoonI got Han Solo in the Final Four.

Having only seen the first Star Wars movie, my level of expertise remains with the original characters.

It is March, and that means Madness, and I’m game for any pool.

And if chabad.org can go milchig with its “Got Seder?” email blast, why can’t starwars.com do a Star Wars Character Tournament, too?

As the NCAA tournament progresses, some $3.5 billion will be trading hands in office NCAA pools across the country, and American workers will spend nearly 8.4 million hours watching games including the Bucknell Bisons against the Butler Bulldogs and the Michigan Wolverines against South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

And the office pool has reached the most famous office of all. A day before leaving for his charm offensive to Israel and Jordan, the Commander-in-Chief picked the non-animal mascot Indiana Hoosiers to beat the Louisville Cardinals in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. He also filled out the NCAA Women’s bracket, but sadly, no one has looked at it yet.

Free, or pay to pick, the March Madness tournament pool is a commercial monster. And if there’s a way to exploit what used to be a tournament followed by college students and hardcore college basketball fans (and actually started and finished in March), then let the apps begin.

Bracketology has other uses.

Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, won the South Carolina Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District on March 19. She will run against the winner of an April 2 primary runoff, which, at press time, was led by former Gov. Mark Sanford, who resigned when he was caught lying about hiking the Appalachian trail while he was actually with his Argentine mistress.

Sanford led the field of 16 primary candidates but didn’t have the majority of votes to win the primary outright.

Hmmm,16 candidates … That sounds like a perfect tournament. In the future, why not divide the slate of candidates into brackets, then hold one-on-one debates that last three hours? Voters enter their picks after each debate through a website, and the winner moves on. A primary candidate could be chosen within one week without even putting up a campaign yard sign.

You could do the same thing with the Academy Awards, the Grammys, picking a new pope and anything else that people vote on or waste time talking about in the office.

Want a verdict on accused murderer Jodi Arias? Put her in a bracket against O.J. Simpson and Klaus von Bulow.

I’ve had a somewhat hazy amount of success with the NCAA tournament. It’s an annual rite involving my brother and me. I find the pools to enter, and he does most of the picking. We’ve picked this way for decades, and we’ve always picked Michigan State as the winner. It’s why I feel ambivalent about Spartan coach Tom Izzo.

When he first took control, Michigan State was usually picked for an early exit. When they would occasionally make it into the Sweet 16, my brother and I looked like geniuses. Now that Izzo has acquired wizard-like status, everyone has picked the Spartans to make it to at least the Sweet 16 (which they did). So goes our edge.

If you’re in an office pool, by the time you read this, many of you will be out of the money. But at least you get to see the best basketball on Earth.

And I only have one bracket question for President Obama: Chewbacca or Wicket?

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