You are an expert college basketball pickmaker. You are the pickmaster, one might say. You always have been. Lest we forget that one year when you picked Bradley University to beat Kansas and it actually happened? However, this year, as with the last several, your expectations of a perfect bracket were thwarted by a single hard-fought tough-luck loss. Then 17 more hard-fought tough-luck losses. Alas, your bracket’s performance this year, by all quantitative measures, might leave you or others questioning your self-proclaimed status as the best bracket-picker this side of the Chattahoochee. As the Round of Fleeting Hope slides into the Bittersweet Sixteen, you will need a way to recoup self-esteem and deflect criticism that both of your predicted championship game participants have already exited, and that an Empty Eight is an all-too-real possibility for your once-beautiful bracket. Luckily, The Tiger has your back:
1. The Refs Blew the Game
Every basketball game has several plays for each team in which the refs make questionable or incorrect calls. For games decided by 3 points or less, pinpoint one of these plays, vehemently rant against it, shake your head, and say “that’s the ballgame right there.” For games decided by more than 3, divide the point differential by 3, then pinpoint that many plays.
2. “I had a hunch”
You were going to pick that upset, but then someone else persuaded you not to.
Even better, you did pick that upset in your head, but forgot to change your bracket submission before the deadline.
4. “I picked it in another bracket.”
For every upset and surprising outcome, tell people you correctly picked it, just not in the bracket you submitted to that particular bracket contest. This way, instead of reflecting poorly on your ability to correctly predict basketball games, it reflects upon your inability to recognize your own genius and put the good bracket into the money pool. Don’t worry about showing anyone this “other bracket,” or even that it exists.
5. “I’m no sheep”
For that now-defunct 2-seed, say that you only had them going all the way in order to separate yourself from the competition. You knew [New Mexico getting to the Final Four] had a lower chance of happening, but if it did you’d surely beat everyone’s bracket by so much that it was worth the risk.
6. The Sentimental Pick
This one usually shows up in statements like “I knew [Valparaiso] wouldn’t actually win, but I had to pick my hometown team.”
The opposite of #6: “I knew [Florida Gulf Coast University] would win two games, I just didn’t want to jinx them.”
8. Extenuating Circumstances
Explain that the game took place under circumstances that were unforeseeable at the time you had to make your picks. Your pick would have been correct had it not been for an unfortuitous streak of luck where [the point guard hurt his knee] / [The coach’s dog died] / [The usual guy in the mascot suit was sick and had to be replaced by someone new]
9. Media Conspiracy
The buzzer-beater actually went in at the end, but the corporate machine needed the big market team to win to increase advertising revenue. A little camera trickery and and a couple Franklins in Verne Lundquist’s pocket and suddenly your bracket is unscrupulously busted.
10. It Isn’t Real
Deny that you ever made a bracket. Squint confusedly and gurgle incoherently at any mention of the words “March Madness,” “brackets,” “sports,” or “Wichita State.”
– MFG ’14