Beware the busting of NCAA brackets

Bobby Curran
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Friday - March 23, 2007
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Try to explain to an outsider the craziness of watching your brackets dance.

According to a USA Today poll, 31 percent of the American public fills out the NCAA brackets. Most are in office pools, large or small. Some compete with their bowling leagues or church groups. All go to the limit of reasonableness. What else could make a grown man pace the living room, making lateral leaps in front of the TV?

“What are you doing?” asks my Scottish-born wife, incredulous at the spectacle before her.“I’m cutting off the baseline, what else!” I yell back. “Can’t anybody play a little defense here?”

I’m watching Georgia Tech getting bounced by UNLV, and of course I’ve got the Yellow Jackets, who amazingly are making the Runnin Rebels look like an incarnation of the champion Lakers.

“Oh, no! Oh, no!“I lament, head in hands, as my wife comes tearing into the living room. “What’s wrong?“she asks.“Can you believe that ridiculous shot, so early in the clock? Sure, just give the game away!”

I’m almost in shock. My better half just shakes her head and goes back to playing with the boys. Yeah, easy for her. She’s not about to have two first-round games go wrong, back to back.

Later she comes back to the living room. “What do you feel like for dinner?” she inquires.Yeah, like I’m supposed to be hungry with Texas A&M Corpus Christi up 10 against Wisconsin.

Next day, I’m holding up the voodoo doll every time Vanderbilt has the ball. “Weren’t you just rooting for this team?” she asks. “That was the last round,“I scream.“I need Washington State.“I stare at the screen. Vandy player at the free throw line.“Miss, miss, miss, miss.” I’m chanting now, fingers drumming rhythmically on the coffee table.

“Boys, come here,“commands my wife.“We’d better leave your father alone.” Let them go, I think. They weren’t rooting worth a darn anyway. The phone rings.“How are your brackets doing?“It’s Gary Dickman. “All right, I guess,” I was 26-6 first round. You?” I wait while he looks. “Yeah, me too. Went 14-2 Thursday then 12-4.”

OK, the weekend will tell the tale. All these favorites keep winning. We commiserate as we’re both losing in the office pool to a girl from accounting who has to be told that a basketball is the round one. On Sunday afternoon the die is cast. Except for Southern Cal. Got to have the Trojans, plus a lot of people have Texas advancing. Suddenly I’m out of the chair. The lamp goes over.

“What happened?“yells my wife.“Nothing,“I shout back.“You gotta box out, for criminy sake.“I realize that I’m speaking between clenched teeth like a ventriloquist.

Yes, it’s the greatest spectacle in sports, and sooo relaxing. If it happened more than once a year, you’d have to put me in a rubber room.

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