The Decaturian

An Ode to the Busted Bracket

Trevor Hooth, Sports Writer

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March Madness brackets are frustrating. By the time the Sweet Sixteen rolls around, many people have given up hope, and by the Elite Eight most people might have half of the teams right if they are lucky. The tournament is just so unpredictable, turning Madness into Sadness very quickly.

As I have gotten older, it seems to me that watching the least amount of college basketball possible is the best strategy. I do one bracket a year with my family, and without a doubt I follow sports the closest. Year after year I sit at the bottom only to see my mother, whose strategy involves the phrase “Pretty Uniforms,” at the top of the pool.

The biggest bracket buster is usually the Cinderella team that year. Whether that be Steph Curry’s Davidson team, or the Florida Gulf Coast team from a few years ago, no one sees them coming. Usually they can get some serious backing from fans, and that is the true beauty of the one game format of the the championship tournament. That is what gives March its madness, because anything can happen.

In 2018, the bracket buster needed only a single win to ruin everyone’s bracket from the start. Virginia, a one seed, lost to the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers, a 16 seed. A tournament first that took out a hefty number of national champion predictions and the majority of Final Four assumptions. It was a wild way to start the tournament that sent shockwaves throughout the sports world.

Cinderella was not a dog this year, however. The group with the collective glass slipper are the Ramblers from Loyola Chicago. That 11 seeded team is slowly upsetting very talented teams, which in turn is twisting the knife in the back of many brackets. Their big triumph was over the third seeded Tennessee Volunteers.

There is always one top seed that kills my hopes. Usually it is Villanova, because most years they find themselves out of the tournament extremely early. But that is only in the years I pick them to make a deep run in the tournament. This year, Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans fizzled out just a few rounds before the championship game that I predicted them to play in.

This year’s games seem to be riddled with more upsets than normal seasons. Some of the strongest teams lost early. No one would be able to conceive the idea that Virginia and North Carolina would lose so early. It is insane to think. In 2018, it seems to be a smarter strategy to be the lower seeded team.

So, what is there to do when your bracket falls apart? Well, after years of personal research, I’ve learned there are a few options. Crying and wallowing in self-pity is a good start. By the next round, the rest of the people you know will not have a good bracket either because misery loves company.

Once you have collected your emotions, it is important to cling to the one thing you got right. For me, that was Loyola Chicago, and I was able to predict the first two upsets by them because I am a sports genius. The weirdest thing is that I picked the Virginia loss too, but changed it last second…okay, well the first one is true.

Finally, there is always next year. The New York Mets fan who held up a ‘Wait ‘til next year’ sign after first pitch every season is right. Next March brings with it a clean slate, and we can all repeat this cycle again and again.

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