NCAA Tournament brings upsets and headaches for bracket holders

NCAA Tournament brings upsets and headaches for bracket holders
March 23
21:44 2022

Each and every year I try to recreate the magic I enjoyed my first time playing in an NCAA Tournament bracket pool at my place of employment. That first year, I won our office pool going away, but ever since then I haven’t won a single time and this year looks no different. March Madness is upon us once again.

After the first round of games in the bracket, I am pretty much done this year as far as winning any of the bracket challenges I am involved with. I have reached the conclusion that the NCAA Tournament is the hardest thing to predict in college or professional team sports.

I tried to account for the hot teams coming out of the conference tournaments, accounted for possible upsets, and even researched several mid-major teams that could make some noise. All of that went out of the window when teams that I didn’t account for started to pull upsets over teams that I had going pretty far in the tournament.

The No. 12 vs. No. 5 seed games almost always bring an upset because you are usually dealing with a smaller school who had a great year versus a pretty good major conference opponent.

This year it was No. 5 Connecticut vs. No. 12 New Mexico State. I didn’t have Connecticut going very far in the tournament; however, I did have them getting past New Mexico. Those were lost points in the bracket that I was counting on later in my bracket.

The upsets didn’t stop there. No. 11 Notre Dame upset No. 6 seeded Alabama in the first round. I didn’t see that one coming either. I actually had Alabama upsetting No. 3 Texas Tech in the second round of games. Once again, my bracket is busted.

I think the biggest shock of the first round was when No. 15 St. Peter’s defeated No. 2 seeded Kentucky. No. 15 vs. No. 2 seeded games have seen their share of upsets over the years. The most memorable one for me was when No. 15 Lehigh beat No. 2 Duke in 2012 in Greensboro. That game stuck in my head for years and was the coming out party for Mountain Hawks star guard C.J. McCollum. For St. Peter’s to duplicate what Lehigh did a decade ago is a testament to how unpredictable the tournament is.  

More round one upsets included No. 6 Colorado State. losing to No. 11 seeded Michigan 75-63; No. 5 Iowa losing  to No. 12 Richmond; and No. 6 LSU falling to No. 11 Iowa State. I’m sure one, if not several, of these games messed up someone’s bracket, especially if they like to go chalk for their picks.

The upsets didn’t stop in round one, either. As I was finishing up this article, I saw that No. 8 seeded North Carolina defeated the No. 1 seed and defending national champion Baylor Bears in overtime. Outside of Carolina fans, I am not sure anyone had that upset on their bracket.

All of this unpredictability is why I think so many people are attracted to the tournament and brackets each March. People who aren’t even college basketball fans or gamblers like to get in on the action every year.

I was recently asked by a co-worker about my tournament picks. My co-worker stated she is not a college basketball fan, but wanted to find a way to bond with her husband when it comes to his love of sports. I told her that me giving her any information about the teams wouldn’t really help her out that much because upsets are so common.

She replied by asking who the top teams in the tournament were. I referred her to the final AP Top 25 rankings prior to Selection Sunday and let her pick her winners the best way she could. I’m interested to see how she fared the first weekend of the tournament.

I have also met people who have found an interesting way to pick games. I once met a person that chose their winning teams based on if they were divisible by the number three. Because their birthday was April 3, the person only picked No. 1, No. 3, No. 6, No. 9, No. 12 and No. 15 seeds. That trick actually worked and that person won their office pool.

Another person told me that because they had no knowledge of the teams that were playing, they chose to pick the winners based on how she liked their mascot against the other team’s mascot. I was amused at this particular strategy, but to each their own, I guess.  

One person shared with me that one year they had such bad luck finishing last in their office pool that for the next year they switched up their strategy. This person was very much into fashion and chose to research every team’s uniform and base their selections on whose uniform they preferred more. I could go on with several more examples of how people have uniquely picked their teams, but I think you get the point.  

I am still amazed at those select few individuals who are able to pick a perfect bracket. With all of the possible upsets and unreliable nature of the tournament, I don’t know how they do it. I doubt there are many perfect brackets left and many people are in the same boat that I am. 

But hey, that’s March Madness for you.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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