Brace yourselves because March Madness is here. We just finished up conference tourney weekend, and the only thing more certain than one of these tournament champions vacating their championship in a few years is you spending some of your meager tax refund on a buy-in for a NCAA Tournament bracket. Despite telling yourself last year, and the year before that, and so on and so on, that you would never do another, you’ve decided that this year is the year. You’re going to pick the perfect 6-seed to make the Final Four, and nail all the upsets. Newsflash: you won’t. You’ll finish in the middle of the pack, at best, in your office pool. Despite knowing this, you’ll ask yourself “but what if I win?” Well, best of luck, but your March/early-April will most likely go something like this.
Selection Sunday/The Research Phase
You print out your bracket or join your online pool and go to work. Now, you haven’t exactly watched much college basketball this year. By that I mean that you watched the first half of a random non-conference game in December, and a couple quality last two minutes of at least four games during conference season. This hasn’t stopped you from giving expert analysis on Kentucky (“I haven’t seen a team that talented in years”), Gonzaga (“They really play well together”), and Wisconsin (“I don’t see anything stopping them from being a force in the postseason this year. Nothing at all”). No matter, ESPN has all the stats and info you need, and you use the time you should be calling clients to pour over every matchup and talk yourself into just about any outcome. Before you know it, you’re falling in love with SMU, guaranteeing upsets on Twitter, and telling anyone who has the misfortune to share a space with you that you can’t wait to watch Arkansas’ Bobby Portis become a superstar during the tournament.
Rounds 1 and 2
You weren’t around for the Rodney King riots, but you can’t imagine they were much worse than the left side of your bracket. Your Final Four pick SMU got beat so bad that Larry Brown wished that he could go back to the days where his only concern was “talkin about practice.” Your upsets came up short and Bobby Portis fouled out with 13 minutes left in the second half. Your left side Sweet 16 looks like the bracket equivalent to diarrhea. To make matters worse, Christy from down the hall, the one with too much perfume and a northeastern accent that makes you cry inside, is sitting in first place and even picked Robert Morris upsetting a 2-seed because “my hairdressers name is Roberto and he’s so funny.” But there’s hope. You’ve got three Final Four teams left and an upset pick or two paid off, you still can do this.
Sweet 16/Elite 8
It’s all come crashing down. You had one Final Four team knocked out in the Sweet 16, then another in the Elite 8. You’ve still got Kentucky, but so does everyone else. At this point your favorite quotes are “I knew I should’ve picked them” or “I was going to but I changed my mind at the last second.” You’re sitting dead last in the office, tied with Hank from HR. The only consolation is that at least you didn’t refer to yourself as “Hoop Dreams Hank” before submitting your bracket. Although you’ve accepted defeat and handling it nobly, you admittedly sat in your office and stared at the wall for an hour when you heard Christy declare that she picked Final Four bound Baylor because their colors matched her outfit that day. Not to mention you have to endure a sneer every time you walk past Darren “I don’t even really watch sports much, but yeah I’ll play” from accounting. Fuck you, Darren.
Kentucky got iced, and now the whole office is miserable. Everyone, that is, except Christy, who clinched victory when the Wildcats went down to Baylor. As you head back to your cubicle and start telling yourself that you’ll just kick ass in fantasy football and redeem your 8th place finish from last year, you hear Christy talk about using her winnings to buy a new laptop, and as you think about your old, porn ravaged laptop at home, you lean back in your chair and cry..
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