This has been an interesting March Madness for me. For one thing, I did not play in a private bracket pool which I always do. It’s different for me now that I am married and I have to let the wife know that I need to send a check off so that I can have action on the many hours of basketball that I am going to be watching for three weeks. She is not into sports and watching them on TV and she thinks that gambling is sheer folly, though she acknowledges that it just entertainment if it is not done in a compulsive manner. In fact, she will be packing me off to Del Mar for four days this summer because she feels bad about my missing the last two years, and she wants four days of peace and quiet. Picking my battles and saving up my opportunities, Del Mar trumps March Madness. Better chance of winning there.
However, I did take a shot at the Quicken Loan Billion Dollar Challenge. Why not? No entry fee involved. And, as advertised and not misrepresented, no chance to win the billion. But there are twenty $100,000.00 prices being given out to the brackets with the highest point totals. This is where it gets interesting.
I did almost no handicapping other than watching conference tournament games and listening to the “experts” on CBS and ESPN. It’s their job to do the studying and analysis. I don’t have the resources they do and they watch way more games than I do. But I have watched thousands of basketball games, both NBA and college, and I trust my eyes. I believe I can tell when a college player has a chance to be an NBA player. I also have my fundamentals. I like teams that come into the tourney rolling with a great record in their last ten games, teams that play defense, teams that shoot a high free throw percentage, teams with experienced players and teams with coaches who know how to win NCAA tournament games. Obviously, those things are nothing new in the bracket picking game.
So I made my picks. And I was out of the billion dollars after the first game played. I had Ohio State. My daughter went there. I knew they were overrated but I thought they could beat Dayton. Picking with your heart is usually a mistake. I missed six the first day and three the second. But in the round of 32, I only missed three and I have 13 of 16 in the Sweet 16, 7 of 8 in the Elite 8 and all 4 Final Four teams still alive.
I have Baylor, Tennessee and Kentucky making the Elite 8 and Kentucky making the Final Four.
I am currently ranked 21,961 in the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Challenge and 43,532 overall. I have no idea what the difference in the two is. But I know that I went into last Sunday’s games ranked over 1,500,000. I also know that my three live longshots moved the number and if they keep winning they will move it a lot more. Only 2.6% of the brackets have Baylor making the Elite 8, 2.3% have Kentucky and Tennessee, 0.1%. Only 1.4% of the brackets have Kentucky making the Final Four. I have three favorites making the Final Four, Michigan State, Arizona and Florida.
I have 36 out of 48 correct picks and 49 points. The lowest number of points on the leaderboard is 56 points. If I run the table, which is highly unlikely but not impossible, I will finish with 173 points and with my longshots having to win and such a low number of brackets having them on them, that 173 points could be right there at the end.
Spring is a time when many people celebrate miracles in their religions. I believe in miracles. My odds of finding three women to marry me may be longer than the odds of picking a perfect bracket. But I did it.
Now, I would say that it would take something like Divine Intervention for me to run the table and have a shot at winning $100,000.00. And to affirm my faith and honor God, if some strange series of events which defied all the laws of natural probability and could be deemed of miraculous proportions occurred and all the cosmic tumblers fell into place and I picked all of the remaining games correctly and won $100,000.00, I PLEDGE TO DONATE $10,000.00 TO THE V FOUNDATION AND $10,000.00 TO ST. JUDES. I can say with almost certainty, that if I won $100K, my wife would up the donation to St. Judes to $20,000.00. How wonderful would it be if I were to win on a Hail Mary and a prayer was answered. By the way, my wife is Catholic.
And while all this was dancing around in my head in bed last night, this limerick popped out –
When giving a bracket the old college try,
Poor picking’s something upon which I rely.
But if my upsets keep coming in
I could mathematically win….
There’s a better chance that I’ll grow wings and fly.