By Colin Daileda
In the illustrious, decades-long history of my family’s March Madness bracket pool, I have never won. Neither has my mom. Neither has my dad. My younger brother, Kyle, has also never won. We are sad.
My older brother, Chris D, won for as long as I can remember, until he pulled an MJ and retired early-ish. After that, Nikki, my girlfriend, outlasted us all and then she herself took a one-year hiatus only for Chris B. to come in last year and throw my dreams against the hard rocks of reality. Chris D is back this year and his girlfriend Nadene is also joining us. One of them will probably win, because it’s always him or the rookie. But one year, I will win. This is simple probability. Of course, probability dictates I should have already won.
This year, to pay tribute to the bracket filler-outers and to distract myself from how miserable my own bracket will be in roughly 36 hours, we’ve taken the dumb sportscaster questions usually answered by athletes and turned them on the family pool. Every round, they’ll be subjected to insightful questions such as, “to what to attribute the success/failure of this round?”
Bracket filler-outers: They’re athletes, too!
Without further ado:
1. What’s your strategy for this year’s bracket?
Chris D: Pick all number 1’s to advance through the first 3 rounds. Flip a coin for the 8-9 match-ups and when in doubt, always pick the team with the cooler mascot. I mean, what the hell is a Lobo? Also, spoiler alert: this is how I do it every year. And I always win.
Nikki: I forgot that I had to do this until Wednesday evening. Then I Googled “how to pick your bracket this year.” Then I forgot again. Then I watched an episode of The West Wing and Colin reminded me halfway through. Then I watched another episode of The West Wing because C.J. is considering going on a date with Danny, and also everyone finds out that Leo used to have a Valium addiction, so I wanted to know what happened next.
Then I looked at President Obama’s bracket. Then I spent 15 minutes reading about underdogs (Gonzaga!), coaches who’ve never been to the Final Four (can’t trust them) and No. 5 seed teams versus No. 12 seed teams (not as obvious as it seems). Then I finally picked by saying the name of each team out loud and favoring ones with a connection to musical theater.
Nadene: Pick the schools I know. If I’m not familiar with the school then I just go by their rank (“it’s called seeding, honey, seeding”). Also if I’ve been to a particular city or state, then that school has a way better chance on my bracket.
Colin: Is it sad that I pretend to have an actual strategy, but that it changes every year? This year I’m going with teams that have an NBA-destined guard and defenses that are in the top 30 according to some stat or another that I read on some website somewhere. Nothing has worked before, so hey.
Dad: Typically I pick with my heart – picking those I wish would win. Since that has never worked, I am trying to use some logic and pick the hot teams. But as usual some of the choices come down to guessing. And then of course you have to pick a first round upset or two just to keep it interesting.
Chris B: Chris B did not respond to questions because, as defending champion, he has apparently decided that it does not matter whether he responds. He’s not wrong.
Mom: I pick my favorite teams, even if my favorite player on those teams played 20 years ago. Then I pick the teams whose coaches I like – can’t pick teams with jerk coaches. And lastly, I go by the numbers, unless of course there’s a family alma mater involved, and then I may err on the side of emotion rather than logic.
Kyle: My strategy is hoping for the best.
2. Who did you pick to win it all? Why?
Nikki: Oklahoma! (see aforementioned musical strategy)
Nadene: Oregon to win it all. Because I have been there. But more importantly, I have a Ducks T-shirt.
Colin: Michigan State! Tom Izzo! Seems as likely as anything.
Dad: As opposed to what I just said above, I couldn’t help myself and I had to pick my alma mater (Arizona) to win it all. While I think if they get hot they could actually do it, I just couldn’t bring myself to eliminate them, so once again I let me heart rule my head. “Bear Down Arizona.”
Mom: UNC. They’re a top seed, they have a great coach, and who doesn’t like the colors of blue and white?
Kyle: I picked Xavier to win it all because I love the X-Men.
3. Why do you believe you’re going to win the pool?
Chris D: Because I’m a winner and that’s what winners do. They win. Refer to last line of question 1.
Nikki: I adopted the same last-minute strategy two years ago and won the pool. I forgot to do it last time so this is my comeback year. Also Chris D is making a cake, which I would like for myself. (No coconut, Chris).
Nadene: Beginner’s luck?
Colin: I don’t, because I’m sure that at least three games that would go one way 4/5 times will go the other way during the tournament, leaving my bracket a shameful, hollowed-out version of itself by about Saturday evening.
Dad: I’m going to win because I am the official scorer and I can make that happen. Actually, being the official scorer, I almost certainly won’t win, because if I do there will be some serious rumblings from the rest of the players that it is rigged. So I’m damned if I don’t and damned if I do.
Chris B: I (Colin) heard this guy thinks it’s his right to win now. This guy, man. This guy.
Mom: I can only hope, but with all the other people using statistics and whatnot, maybe an off-the-wall approach will work. I remember winning a football pool once because I picked a cold weather team playing a team from the South. Little did I know it was a covered stadium. Sometimes it’s better not knowing!
Kyle: I don’t. I gave up on that dream a while ago, I just hope to beat my brother.
(He did not specify which brother)
Colin Daileda is a co-founder of Or Something and a staff reporter at Mashable. Follow him on the Twitters: @ColinDaileda