March Madness is about to descend upon us. It’s the time of year when everyone becomes an expert on college hoops.
The worst part about the Madness is people talking about their brackets. Brackets are like opinions — everybody has one. But I’m here to tell you: Nobody cares about your brackets! Please stop posting on social media that your bracket is busted three games into the tournament. Of course it’s busted: Nobody in the history of the world has ever predicted a perfect bracket. With the 68-team format, there are 147.57 quintillion possibilities — yes, that’s the actual number. Yet all of us secretly think we will be the first person to do it.
My other complaint is about the colleges that always gripe about getting snubbed. If you weren’t good enough to make a field of 68, there’s very little chance you had a shot anyway. I’m not a bracketologist, so my only advice is to never pick a 16 seed. No seed with that number has ever won a game in the men’s tournament. 16 seeds are the Cleveland Browns of March Madness.
Since the NCAA Tournament began in 1939, the Panthers have made 25 appearances, with seven trips to the Sweet 16 and three to the Elite Eight. Pitt’s only Final Four appearance was in 1941 and who can forget Pitt losing that 36-30 barn-burner against Wisconsin?
More recently, the 2009 team almost made it, only to have its dreams crushed by a last-second layup by Villanova. The very next year, Robert Morris took those Wildcats to overtime, only to surrender to the same fate. Stupid Villanova, I strongly dislike them so much. RMU has made the tournament eight times — a very respectable number. Duquesne hasn’t fared as well; its last appearance was during the Carter administration. Overall, the Dukes have been to the tournament five times and have as many Final Four appearances as Pitt. That was in 1940, so Pitt’s appearance is fresher in everyone’s memory.
It’s completely understandable that smaller colleges are excited just to get into the tournament. It’s a chance to be on national television and to be happy for a few days before getting crushed by a powerhouse school like Duke or Kansas. Of course, upsets do happen and when they do, some player will always tell the cameras how they “shocked the world.”
Slow down there, junior — that’s a bit of an overstatement. There’s very little chance that someone living in a war-torn country is saying, “This genocide and famine were definitely a little shocking, but what’s really shocking is that 14th-ranked Alabama-Birmingham beat third-ranked Vanderbilt on a buzzer-beater to move to the round of 32. I’m so shocked, and damn you Alabama-Birmingham, you busted my bracket.”
This year, Robert Morris has a losing record; Duquesne was on its way but was derailed after a season-ending injury to Jeremiah Jones. Pitt might get in, though; a recent walloping of the Duke Blue Devils at the Pete definitely helped Jamie Dixon’s chances. Please get in, Pitt, or we might have to root for West Virginia based on proximity alone. Coach Bob “Huggy Bear” Huggins will be ready with his Mountaineers. Dixon looks like he’s a suit model for Brooks Brothers, while Huggins, in his track suit, looks like a guy being brought up on racketeering charges.
But despite my issues with March Madness, it is a great time of year for sports. The tournament starts next week, so get those brackets ready. Maybe you can shock the world by getting them all right. But you won’t. No one has ever received a Ph.D. in bracketology.