Enough time has passed since the gut-wrenching debacle against Marquette that I was finally able to stomach a curious glance at my online bracket picks — this being the first time I’d checked them closely since before the 2nd weekend of games. The inexplicable results awaiting me speak to the insanity of what’s happened in this year’s tournament.
I’m involved in two sets of ESPN-hosted bracket challenges with different sets of friends. I filled out two brackets and cross-listed them in both competitions, so I could compare results equally against all my various opponents. Why two brackets? First I filled out my “real” picks, using my rational, so-called college basketball expertise to inform my selections; then I filled out a “just for fun” fantasy set of picks based entirely on having Big East teams win every single game mathematically possible, up to and including SU winning the championship over Pitt, by a score of 110-50. This bracket involved 9 Big East teams making up the Sweet 16; 7 Big East teams in the Elite Eight; and of course an all Big East final four.
Given the absolute debacle that the Big East suffered this year, with 9 of 11 teams shitting the bed by the round of 32, one would assume that my fantasy brackets would be the laughing stock of the group, landing squarely in last place by now, with a grand total score lying somewhere between embarrassing and humiliating. I assumed this would be the case also, and that my “real” brackets would probably be suffering somewhere in the middle, since I — like many others — got zero Final Four teams, but I had picked a few early games fairly well.
But in this 2011 world of college basketball madness nothing makes sense anymore, and what I actually found was that my fantasy brackets — which were based solely on Big East success during a year of historic Big East failure — were not only scoring well ahead of my “real” picks, they were in fact well in the upper echelons of both group contests. My Big East fantasy bracket is somehow ranked 8th out of 22 brackets in one of my ESPN leagues, and it’s ranked second out of 10 in the other league. If that doesn’t deserve a hearty W-T-F then I don’t know what does.
The long and short of it became obvious after a little sleuthing: despite getting almost everything wrong in my Big East fantasy picks, the mere fact that I road UConn to the Final Four in those brackets was enough to shoot its score past almost everyone else in both leagues, because everyone else got pretty much everything wrong, whether they favored Big East teams of not. In one of my leagues, not a single person picked even one Final Four team correctly (other than my fake pick with UConn), and in the other league only a few managed it (some Kentucky partisans). Most people had fairly disastrous Elite Eights as well. The guy who has already locked up the win in the league with 22 competitors is also the guy that picked Wisconsin to win the whole thing. Wisconsin. And he’s got the overall victory wrapped up because he’s ahead right now and no one else has any potential points remaining.
It’s all like some kind of ridiculous joke. The sports Gods are having a riotous laugh at everyone’s expense this spring, that’s the only explanation.