Saturday, March 20, 2010

How Much (March) Madness Is Too Much Madness: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

For those of you who were born yesterday, this week was the beginning of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, where 65 of the top college basketball teams in the nation compete in a single-elimination tournament and people like me fill out brackets trying to figure out who is going to win each game, following the games online at work, watching nothing but basketball at home, ignoring our friends, loved ones and co-workers for three weeks, etc.

If you think I'm exaggerating, think again. People like me will do their research trying to pick the winners in the days leading up to the tournament, and tell their wives the following:

You're not expecting me to pay attention to you, are you? Because I have to figure out if UTEP has a shot against Butler.

I'll be paying for that statement at some point. Of this I am sure.

Two years ago, I took my readers through the craziness of following the first two days of March Madness. Last year, I wrote about how my alma mater, Cal State Northridge, made the tournament, almost pulled off a gigantic upset, and how I almost had three massive coronaries from the excitement.

This year, I want to write about how people tend to fill out multiple brackets in NCAA pools, the idea being not only to expand the fun, but also to expand the chances of winning a pool and thus a lot of money.

A lot of people fill out more than one bracket. Many fill out two. Some fill out three. A couple of folks here and there may even get really crazy and fill out four.

I filled out 14.

14. Granted, it's a touch on the high side. But the way I see it, NCAA March Madness tournament brackets are like lottery tickets. They're cheap and the more you have, the more chances you have to win.

But as I've come to find out over the past couple of days, not everyone feels the same way I do.

Apparently, the fact that I have 14 brackets has caused a stir among those around and connected with me.

For example:

In one pool I'm in, in which there are more than 100 entries, the commissioner of the pool is considering adopting "The Barich Rule next year, which would limit how many brackets an individual can fill out."

I'd like to say two things here:

1) I MIGHT HAVE A FREAKIN' RULE NAMED AFTER ME!!! "The Barich Rule." I will not have lived in vain. :-)

And 2) When the hell did America turn communist? I mean, when one goes to McDonald's, is there a limit to how many Big Macs someone can buy? Am I restricted in the number of video games I can own? When I buy girl scout cookies, does little Tammy from Troop 546 say to me: "Sorry sir, limit 4"?

If you restrict the number of NCAA March Madness brackets I can fill out, it's akin to rebuilding the Berlin Wall. Let the wall come down!!

My wife Ramona doesn't get it. Although both a sports fan and a columnist for ESPN Los Angeles who actually gave her own predictions on the NCAA Tournament on ESPN Radio earlier this week (fast forward to 12 minutes in on the podcast), my better half told me the following the other day:

Nev, I'm your wife and I love you. And this is coming straight for the heart: You're totally ridiculous.

I'd like to say two things here:

1) For the remainder of this blog, Ramona -- who still goes by her maiden name Shelburne -- will be referred to as "Mrs. Barich."

And 2) What Mrs. B doesn't realize is that the NCAA Tournament is like Christmas morning for me. Each bracket I fill out is like an individually wrapped gift under the tree, filled with mystery and excitement and possibilities. Is it a great gift? Is it socks? Will the gift bring a smile to my face or make me groan because it's a useless piece of crap that I can't throw away because the person who bought it for me will get offended and thus I have to stash it in a drawer somewhere where it will collect dust for the remainder of time?

The more brackets -- gifts -- I have, the more chances I have of getting great gifts. Now granted, it also increases the odds of me getting crap, but I'm a optimist. Hence, 14 brackets.

More than once over the past couple of days, I've been asked: "Nev, if you have so many brackets going on, with different picks for each one, then how do you know who to root for?" But that's the beauty of technology today: I don't need to know!! Today's computer software tabulates my scores for me throughout the tournament, helping me to decide as time goes on who I should throw my unwavering allegiance to. While others were crying the other day because "Georgetown lost and I had them in the Final Four!! My bracket's busted!!" I can take comfort in the fact that I have so many chances to win, that it doesn't matter if one dream gets crushed. Because I have 13 more dreams that can come true!!

I've become about quantity, people.

In the end, folks, it's about one thing: Winning an NCAA March Madness pool. And I'll confess something: I've never won one (at least one involving money). Oh, I've come close enough to get to the championship. But I've never been able to win the big one. And maybe that's what this is all about: Accomplishing something I've never accomplished. Climbing the top of a mountain that has thus far proven unscaleable. I want to win, God damn it!! And if it takes 14 brackets to do it, then so be it.

A good friend asked me the other day:

"Would you throw me in front of a moving bus if it meant you winning one of these things?"

"Of course not," I replied.

"But I'd push you down a flight of stairs."


And now for this week's:


Jellyfish are immortal.



Rachit said...

Lol. The Barich rule part was hilarious.

Bob Bacon said...

Excellent post.

Josh said...

Nobody ever suggested the Glimm Memorial was a democratic pool. Communist? No. I'd say more fascist.

Then again, since none of your eight entries are in the top 50 of the standings, perhaps the Barich Rule isn't necessary after all. :-)

Kat said...

Hey Nevin, how are you? How is life treating you? I read your March Madness blog it was really funny. I'm going for Michigan State because my boyfriend is going for them... Why else!I really don't know much about college ball but let me ask you what are the chances for Michigan State? Oh and who are you going for?

Take care,