Mar 18, 2010, 3:00 PM EST
The good news is that Jelisa Castrodale is here to give NCAA Tournament bracket advice. The bad news is that you are already 1-7 in your pool. Ah well, there’s still that second-chance pool, and of course suicide. Enjoy.
By Jelisa Castrodale
In March of 1985, enduring funk band The Commodores were in the Billboard Top 10 with “Nightshift”, a song you’re familiar with if you’ve ever taken a bubble bath with another person. While I’m reasonably sure that Vanderbilt University didn’t have Lionel Ritchie’s syrupy smooth voice in mind when they named their teams the Commodores, that bit of trivia was enough for me to pick Tennessee’s finest research university to win their first round game in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
By the time you read this, we’ll be several games into the tournament and chances are my bracket will already be more worthless than Lindsay Lohan’s conscience. I’m part of four different NCAA pools and will undoubtedly finish at the bottom of the standings, lodged between the woman who picks a champion based on whose mascot is the most edible and the guy who listened to Digger Phelps.
Bracketology requires a little bit of knowledge and a lot bit of guesswork, kind of like ordering Thai takeout or doing your taxes. Sure, there are constants every year, from the No. 12 seed that will upend a 5; that it’s rare for all of the No. 1 seeds to meet in the Final Four; and that Dick Vitale’s neck skin will make you wish you’d never purchased an HDTV. But part of the productivity-wrecking attraction to the tournament is the unpredictability, the George Masons, Weber States, Hamptons and other Nike-wearing Cinderfellas that surprise us every spring.
I can’t tell you how to win, especially since I tend to base my picks on well-mustached soul singers and by eliminating the mascots I’m allergic to (Georgia Tech’s Yellow Jackets) or the ones I don’t understand (St. Mary’s Gaels, I’m looking at you, assuming that you’re actually something that has eyes) but here are a handful of tournament tips to keep in mind as you endure another office pool.
* Don’t Bet on Teams Whose Fans Actually Attended the University. If you’re walking through an airport concourse and see a guy in a Robert Morris sweatshirt, that’s probably what’s etched on his diploma too. That, or his name is Robert Morris. By contrast, looking at some of the blue-painted faces at last week’s ACC tournament made me wonder if some of them could’ve gotten in to Duke Hospital, let alone Duke University.
* Don’t Laugh at What Looks Like Ridiculous Logic. Someone you know picked Butler because they like bulldogs or selected Wisconsin because they saw Skynyrd in Milwaukee that time. Last year, my mother made UNC the National Champion because she thought Tyler Hansbrough looked like a Precious Moments figurine. This time, she picked West Virginia because their coach and my dad both wear wind pants in public. Yes, she’s going to beat me. Again.
* Don’t Listen to The Office Expert. He thinks he knows everything, despite an annual losing streak that dates back to fax machines and Hammer pants. Even more dangerous is the guy who shrugs and says he filled out his bracket in “like, five minutes or something.” The more he insists that he half-assed his selections, the more time he spent researching this tournament. By the time the first game tipped off, he could name each team’s backup center and knows the relative humidity of everything from Oklahoma City to Jay Bilas’ pants.
* Don’t think. Really. There are obvious well-hyped frontrunners — this year, the consensus rhymes with “Kansas” — and your own gut feelings, but unless you’re being paid to wear a polyester sweater vest, don’t give yourself an aneurysm over it. Make a handful of choices, ignore whatever you’re supposed to be working on today, and just enjoy the games.
To paraphrase Vanderbilt’s mascot, it’ll be easy. Easy like Sunday morning.
Jelisa Castrodale is a writer and comedian who has learned a lot about life by making a mess of her own. She chronicles her failures at The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy, covers music for London’s BitchBuzz and twitters while she waits at stoplights. Castrodale was featured in the book Twitter Wit and was named one of Mashable’s 10 Funniest Twitterers.
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