Ah, yes. Itís that time of year.
Itís time for guys to get out their divining rods, download their computer flowcharts, assemble their statistical data and review team histories.
Itís time to fish that lucky rabbitís foot out of the kitchen junk drawer, or grab that old Tar Heels basketball jersey that no longer fits from the back of the closet.
Itís time to clear all TV programming and set shows like Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory and American Idol to the DVR.
It is March Madness, and time to pick your office pool tournament bracket.
Any conceptions that college athletics is an amateur sport can be dispensed with right now. At no time is any sporting event more bet upon than the NCAA tournament field of 64 teams, plus that Cinderella play-in game theyíve added.
As Rivalry Week winds down and the NCAA tournament begins this week, you will have poured over your bracket selections and researched the first-round matchups more thoroughly than you would a college final or the BAR exam.
First round games are happening even as we speak so for many of you, all that hard work and effort, all your hopes of winning the office pool have been immediately dashed, and watching the rest of the NCAA tournament becomes a frivolous waste of time.
For the record, I stink at bracket pools. I stunk at all those pools, especially the weekly NFL pool where you had to pick the winners of each Sunday game Ė forget point spreads Ė just picking the winner was impossible for me. In fact, there was one week where I picked all ten games wrong.
All of them.
Still, I felt I was deserving of some special merit of recognition, as isnít it just as hard to pick every game wrong as it is to get every game right?
The hosts of the Sunday Football Picks pool didnít see nor appreciate my point of view. My bracket pools were over by the play-in game.
I would have been better off donating my pool entry fee to charity and taking the income tax credit for charitable donations because I was never going to see a penny of that money in winnings.
I did win once. The 1979 NCAA tournament when Indiana State played Michigan State for the national championship, it was Magic against Larry. In this bracket pool we did things differently. Rather than picking a bracket we randomly drew teams out of the hat. Two teams per each person entered into the pool contest.
While I was one of the pool organizers, I did not do the drawing and it was held publicly in front of all 32 participants.
My two teams were Michigan State and Indiana State. So I won the whole pot for first and second place finishes. I won $64.
Thatís the only time Iíve ever won anything in my life.