Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy March Madness Batman!

Yes, its March - normally an outrageously busy month (at least from an academic standpoint) and one spent being constantly teased by the weather. Here in Boulder, its sunny one day, snowing the next. Somebody please return Percephone to Demeter!

However, the light at the end of the tunnel is in the form of March Madness. Now, I don't like basketball and don't watch it during the rest of the year - in fact I don't think I'd ever seen a whole game until last year. I'm actually not saying that March Madness is a high point to portray the crappiness of the Month, but rather out of true excitement for the NCAA tournament. Any reason to get excited about sports is good for me. This is now my second year I've put in a bracket, and since I won my pool last year, I have high expectations of myself.

One may ask, how do you put together a bracket AND win when you don't follow basketball? Well, there are may ways to do this, and I assure you I'm not the first non-basketball person to win a bracket that includes some hardcore basketball followers. Diane from Cheers would chose teams based on team colors and mascots. On, Bill Simmons' wife picks based on multiple criteria from personal association with schools or states and what she overhears from Bill and others. In fact, everyone should check out

So I have one bracket in a pool this year. This bracket is built off of critera similar to the Sports Gal (see link above) with whether I like the school or not. I don't know what makes me like one school that I've never been to or known anyone who has gone there over another, but there is an inner stirring for one school over another anyways. And, yes, I do look at the team rankings if I really just don't know anything about the school's reputation in athletics. There is no research or prior basketball watching at all. And like I said, I won my pool last year with this method (yes, shameless self-promotion) - largely because I changed my champion from Georgetown to Florida at the last minute because I wanted an SEC team to win - I like the SEC, damnit. Unfortunately, because I won last year, I feel like I have a reputation to uphold and expectations. That's the shitty thing about doing well - people have expectations. Its the same way with tests in school - lets say you get a 96% on the first test...well shit. Both you and your professor have expectations of your performance on the next exam - if you don't get an A, you're just a disappointment. Giving a shit is a bitch. Starting now I don't believe in expectations, I think its a crap deal.

Anyways, I have been thinking on new ways to pick brackets for those who don't anything about the teams playing, and have come up with two solutions: Fighting and Eating. And honestly, fighting and eating have got to be the most important things in life - especially from an evolutionary biology point of view. What drives evolution? Eating and sex. You have to be able to FIGHT to EAT, and to FIGHT to MATE. There it is, natural selection and sexual selection in a nutshell.

Back to basketball. I'm setting up an experiment on the best "alternative" method for setting up a bracket: (1) personal associations and gut feelings about teams (2) which mascot would win in a fight and (3) which mascot would taste better. So I have three brackets filled out in each method.

Association and Instinct:

Who would win in a fight:

This one got tough when it came down to the Delta Devils versus the Blue Devils. I did want to pick Duke because they're ranked higher and likely a much better team, but "blue" makes me think sad, and Southerners can be tough, so I had to go with Mississippi Valley. But, honestly, I think a Badger could take on the devil.

Which is tastier:

It's really hard to pick between pig and cow to eat. But I'm thinking about Nachos with beef right now, so Texas is going to beat Arkansas.

And just for the record, teams with the mascots like "Big Red" and "Golden Flashes" and the "Hoyas" (which no one really knows what it is) should automatically be eliminated from the bracket.

Let March Madness Begin!!

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