Let’s just get this clear right now: I despise watching basketball*. There are many other sports I rather enjoy (though hockey is almost as high on my despised list as basketball, and for about the same reason). I dislike basketball because it’s a bunch of guys running up and down and up and down the court. I just … think it’s not interesting. And I despise it just because so many other people seem to miss how boring it really is. Sort of how I despise Bob Dylan — ew, he has the world’s most annoying voice ever recorded and then played endlessly on public radio stations. Please, public radio, make it stop!
Despite my now-avowed dislike for spectating the game, every year I nevertheless make a bracket on ESPN.com. I started this to see if my bracket, based on my own made-up criteria which are mostly unrelated to team quality, would beat Brad’s. It did. Since that first year, my brackets have never beat his, but honestly, his have been pretty dismal, too., so I have hope.
Here’s my criteria:
- North Carolina. This is rule number one. North Carolina schools always win the match-up. An example from this year’s bracket: Duke over TBA. Duh, TBA sucks.
- NC sub-rule: If two NC teams are matched, and Duke is one of them, I pick Duke. Otherwise, other rules must be brought to bear.
- NC sub-rule: It rubs off on South Carolina teams a little bit. It’s not absolute, but because of proximity to NC, and name-similarity, I have a bias toward SC teams. Other neighbors of NC get no such benefit because their names sound too different. I picked Clemson over Missouri.
- Climate. Cold climates beat warm climates (New Mexico St vs Michigan St, I pick MI). Very warm climates beat namby-pamby climates (Tennessee vs San Diego State, I pick TN — after I realize that SDSU is not in South Dakota. Because namby-pamby climates like San Diego breed wimps). Being a cold western or mountainous state, however, is not as strong as being a cold flat state. There just aren’t as many people in cold mountainous states, at least not that are all that into basketball. So I have Clemson beating Montana.
- Schools named after cities lose to schools named after states, because states are bigger than cities. (For example, Georgetown vs. Tennessee, I pick TN).
- Schools named after states directionally lose to schools named after whole states. Sometimes they might even lose to schools named after big cities. (East Tennessee State vs. Kentucky, I pick KY). This can potentially hurt West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota. North and South Carolina are, of course, exempt from this rule.
- I admit a slight bias toward Texas teams. TX is big, and I’m from there and thus it naturally has more awesomeness than other states.
- I admit a slight bias against Utah teams. I love UT and all, but folks, it’s a small state, and I know that too well to trust it to perform particularly well on a national level. These are not very strong criteria, but this year rules 7 and 8 both came into play in the Utah St vs. Texas A&M — I picked A&M.
- Land grant schools fare worse than others. Farmers and miners, you know, just don’t smack of greatness in running up and down a court a lot.
- If I have never before heard of a school, I probably won’t pick it. R Morris, I am looking at you. How this rule works, of course, varies from year to year, as I have now heard of Villanova. A few years ago, I might have just picked the name that sounded cooler. Which is, of course, Villanova. R Morris sounds like a sausage company.
- Just from being married to Brad, and now living in northern NY, I must admit a bias toward Syracuse. That SURE affected my bracket THIS year.
- I don’t usually pick a school which I perceive as being a smart-people school. That was a tough choice in the Temple vs. Cornell match, but eventually my unresearched belief that people at Cornell are super smart ruled against them.
- Other things being equal, I will pick the school in flatter terrain.
These rules run all over each other. And I might have even forgotten some. I’m okay with that. I hate basketball. But I do certainly enjoy idly thinking up ways to make my bracket more ridiculous. Because if it is sufficiently stupid, and it still does better than people’s who really like watching basketball, well. It warms my cold heart, I guess.
*I don’t mind playing basketball. It’s not my favorite thing, but it doesn’t make me want to die. I just don’t understand why anyone watches it. Ever.