How’s Your Bracket?

By Christopher Gabriel, Blog Harbor

For as long as I can remember, when the month of March rolls around I like millions of other Americans go underground into a secluded bunker filled with videotapes, stats and team profiles to prepare for the benchmark moment of the entire sports calendar: Filling in my March Madness, NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament bracket.  Honestly, does anything else on the planet even come close to generating the level of involvement and excitement the NCAA tournament registers?

The presidential election, the opening of Major League Baseball, the battle for final playoff spots in the NHL and the NBA, the economy . . . it all pales to Bracketology.

So then, how’s your bracket?

Although I managed to correctly pick three of the four teams in the Final Four, missing only on Memphis (I had Texas . . . they lost to Memphis . . . bastards), earlier rounds show my bracket to be filled with mistakes.  Lots and lots of mistakes.  Oh, I picked an upset here and there but overall, and as usual, my bracket for overall points based upon aggregate wins was a dismal failure.

Meanwhile my wife’s bracket, as has become custom, was quite another story.

She blew me away.  19 years we’ve been together and she destroys me year after year. 

Now, a few things to consider: I was a basketball player all through high school and was courted by a handful of major and mid-major Division 1 programs.  In other words, I know the game.  I understand the complex nuances of basketball.  I follow my favorite team, I follow the teams I dislike . . . I follow the sport religiously.  Again, I know the game.  Of that, there can be no doubt.  I KNOW COLLEGE BASKETBALL!

And when it comes to breaking down and filling out the bracket, that great knowledge means diddly-squat.  Zippo.  Nothing.  My wife is the Queen.  She rules The Bracket Kingdom and I am merely one of the queen’s serfs.

Now don’t get me wrong; my wife knows more about sports than half of my male friends.  In fact as a matter of full disclosure, her love of sports was one of the qualities that drew me to her.  Ok, it was hardly the most important quality but it was top 10 . . . maybe top 5 . . . maybe even . . . I better stop, she reads this blog.  I digress.  Where was I . . .

Although she really knows sports, college basketball is not high on her list of must-see television.  And when it’s time to pick the bracket, my request is usually greeted with a long sigh and even longer contemplation.  Eventually, though, she agrees.

The thing about her sigh and contemplation — I used to believe both reactions were her way of trying to decide whether or not she actually wanted to do the bracket competition with me.  Always the genius — and please realize nothing gets by me — I’ve now discovered I was way off base.  In truth, her reaction was one that said, in essence, “do you really want me to kick your ass . . . again?”

I keep coming back for more; she obliges by swatting me and my bracket down. 

Her dominance over me in this annual rite of bracketology madness is tantamount to UCLA in their great 88-game winning streak:  Naturally, she’s UCLA and I’m every team that was in their path.

So, I ask you again: How’s your bracket?

You’ll recall I mentioned I got three of the Final Four teams correct . . .

. . . my wife got all four.

But if you really want to understand her dominance, a quick review of our respective Sweet 16’s is as far as you need to go.  I got nine teams correct.  Ok, not great but not that bad.  My wife — 14.  FOURTEEN teams, for Heaven’s sake! 

Isn’t this always the way it works?  The person who picks the teams based upon his/her favorite colors, the cutest mascot or just a “feeling” they get about a particular school tends to win.  Every time. 

To be fair, in the case of my wife she does none of the above.  Nope.  She buries herself into the newspaper for an hour or so comparing teams and reading up on stats, trends and match-ups.  One hour . . . no longer. 

Me — I spend three days in my analysis phase. 

And then, the actual selection process — I’ll take about 45 minutes picking teams round-by-round, changing my selections, doing a little more research on a particularly tough game involving the 8 and 9 seeds in a region; maybe I’ll agonize over a possible 12 over 5 seed upset.  I really break it down to the most finite points. 

My wife — five minutes.  5.

There’s a lesson here.  And if I ever learn it, perhaps next year will finally be my 1974, when Notre Dame ended UCLA’s 88-game winning streak in South Bend.

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Filed Under: BasketballCollege BasketballFunNCAASports


About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.

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  1. Dude, didn’t Mrs. G. work in FINANCE? You’re a… an artist. An artist who played b-ball, but you’re an artist.


  2. Beth/Scraps says:

    My bracket looks darn good! Thanks for the help CG! I’m still three points behind the leader, but I have faith.


  3. CGabriel says:

    Beth/Scraps: If you’re three points behind the leader, that’s pretty darn good. However, my quick math tells me you’d be ahead if I’d had you take Memphis over Texas in the regional final. More to the point . . . . . . Mrs. G had Memphis over Texas.


  4. Beth/Scraps says:

    I’m sure you are correct. But for a measley ten bucks, it has been a riot watching the boys get ticked that the girl was doing so well.

    Thanks again for the help 🙂


  5. Beth/Scraps says:

    Said girl lost. But I bet you knew that.

    Carpe the weekend my friend!


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