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My own March Madness

Compelled by an email from the boss, I jumped into the fray, and quickly got bounced back out.

Since my immediate family includes two males who are pretty sports savvy, I've been exposed to a lot of games during the past three decades. But I've never quite understood the frenzy of March Madness. If you're not familiar with March Madness, it's the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, also known as the Big Dance. Come springtime, 65 college basketball teams go hoop to hoop, hoping to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and on to the Final Four.

Over the years, my hubby and son have tried to get me to join their various office-based betting pools. But I know nada about college basketball. In fact, I haven't attended a game since I was a co-ed at Seattle University back in that other millennium. And this year's slate of teams didn't hold any real interest for me, what with Seattle U not being a part of it (my hubby is also an alum); nor was my son's alma mater of Boston College in the March mix. So as usual, I declined. But then I got the email — from an editor. As one of 275 contributors to True/Slant, an original content news network, I figured that when one of the senior guys sends out an email announcing the NCAA office pool, I oughta act somewhat interested. Shouldn't I?

My editor's selling points on why we should be a part of the courtside party were pretty strong: Not only did his mom win 200 bucks in her office pool the first time out (she knew nothing about the tourney), but President Obama found time for March Madness, sharing his picks with ESPN. OK, I'm in, and with just 30 minutes left before the deadline, I signed up. The fun part for me was picking a name for my bracket: Should it be Sue's Blues? Nope, too gloom and doom. How aboutHouse of Frause? Nah, a bit arrogant. The other 52 players in my True/Slant pool had come up with some pretty catchy ones: Baracket Hussain Obama II, Scorched Berth and A History of Shame to name a few. I went the easy route with She Got Game, a take-off on Spike Lee's 1998 basketball movie "He Got Game," starring Denzel Washington.

Now the tough part, picking the winning teams for my bracket. Keep in mind that all of this is done online, so it's no surprise that there are websites devoted to picking winners. Bullz-eye.com, an online men's magazine, dispensed these Five Tips to Bracket Domination: Use the seeds (What's a seed?); Consider fatigue (I'm exhausted); The "Six Cat" Analysis (I'm in way too deep); Reality Check (I should never have signed up); and Go With Your Gut/Or Your Heart (Bingo!). With the opening game starting in just under 10 minutes, I had to click through my picks fast. The clock was running.

Once the names of the teams started popping up on the screen, I knew this wasn't going to be a slam dunk. UTEP...Wofford...AR Pine Bluff. Do people really go to those schools? I threw out Bullz-eye's first four tips above, sticking with my gut and heart. Using a travel and friendship theme, I selected my teams based on (a) if I had visited the town or city where the college is located; (b) if I wanted to visit the town or city where the college is located; (c) if I knew somebody who attended or was employed by the college; (d) if I knew somebody who lived in the town where the college is located; and (e) none of the above. Turns out that basketball had nothing to do with it.

Well, March Madness isn't even over, and I'm already toast. I'm ranked 34 out of 53 in the True/Slant Group Standings, making 29/48 correct picks. And like a lot of folks, I watched in shock on Saturday as Kansas lost to Northern Iowa. Unfortunately, I picked Kansas to beat Kentucky to win the national basketball championship title on April 5.


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