The trajectory of my NCAA tournament picks year over year is pretty much the same, and this explains why I haven’t put up a stake for a pool in the past 15 years. I am a purist, and I play the Full Bracket (none of this Bayesian round-by-round fluff). Beginning with the greatest of expectations, my picks, more right than wrong at the start, soon regress to chance or worse. The hardest part is that I can see the train wreck coming and I am powerless to do anything about it.
Only halfway through the First Round, the proverbial writing is on the wall. Because the points accrued are weighted, and subsequent rounds are worth more points, my mistakes in the early going have grim repercussions down the road. Georgia State’s upset of Baylor will sting as far as the Sweet Sixteen and UCLA’s upset of Iowa State will haunt my bracket all the way into the Elite Eight.
I begin the tournament every year believing that this is the year the astronomical odds Gods will shine on my humble bracket and that outrageous fortunes will follow from my auspicious acumen for picking winners and losers. It has been suggested, however, that for mere mortals brackets are made to be busted so that we may commiserate with one another. The empirical evidence is that misery loves miserable company.
The heartbreak of defeat can be redoubled when my alma mater is involved. I know I should not choose them to keep winning until they reach the Final Four. Yet, I am helpless when it comes to betting against them, dear old Virginia.
Hark! I hear that train a comin’!