The men's NCAAs tip off this morning at 9:40 a.m., with the Bay Area's only entrant, the Stanford Cardinal, taking on their University of Louisville homophones.
It's hard to say which is more popular these days, watching postseason college basketball or "playing" an NCAA bracket pool or two, or seven.
The bracket, of course, being the scheduling grid that divides 64 of the "best" college teams in the country into four regions to play six rounds of games over three weeks to decide one champion (you listening NCAA football?). Made mathematically neat and tidy by the NCAA's decision to expand the postseason championship tournament to 64 teams in 1985 (sometime in the last decade they tacked on an additional "play-in" game between two tiny conferences for the chance to be a #16 seed), and hyped with massive underdog upsets by North Carolina State in 1983, Villanova in 1985, and Kansas in 1988, and mesmerizing teams like Christian Laetner's Dukies and the bad-ass UNLV squads of the 1990s, the men's NCAA tournament and its attendant office pool have been upwardly spiraling out of control for more than 20 years.
Got picks? Photo by SFist_Chris.
So much so that a new field of pop science called bracketology has even sprouted up around the NCAA pools. Essentially overhyped and overcommented analysis of the tournament fields, bracketology has been the hot word on everybody's lips for the past few years. In fact, bracketology has gotten so big, it's being applied to just about everything in a cross-disciplinary orgy of nonsensical shark jumping that confirms America's ability to bastardize just about anything.
So whether you live for the tournament or are just playing a pool so your buddy will stop sending you harassing emails, the moment of truth has come -- time to fill out the bracket. First question: what type of pool are you playing? Round-by-round points-based winner-take-all, Calcutta, team draft, or some other heretofore undiscovered variety? Are you playing one pool or juggling six different picks sheets for three different pools? Playing your buddy's hand-tallied pool, a corporate online venture, or just playing with yourself? Do you review stats, scouting reports, and experts' predictions to supplement the 29 hours of college hoops you watch every week or do the team mascots and colors determine your picks?
Well, we've got our men's NCAA bracket sheet out and we're ready to jump into the pool. . .
So, let's see, . . . Winthrop, that's a cool name, we'll take them. And, uh Madison is a party town, so let's take the Wisconsin Badgers to go all the way -- that should be an awesome victory celebration. We love to see coaches and mentors face off, so that means Pitt and UCLA to meet in the second round, and we'll take the protege in the Marquette-Michigan State throwdown. Oral Roberts is a given (heh-heh, we said Oral). Even though we're taking ORU, we're hoping they get hammered so we can write "Oral Roberts blows a big one" in our pool summary.