I go a little overboard when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.
Let me start, though, by saying that it's one of my favorite sporting events of the year. In the years before I became a teacher, I used to take off from work both the Thursday and the Friday of the first round of the tournament, and sit in front of the TV for 12 hours straight.
Now, I can't do that anymore, but I take the free time I have on that Thursday and Friday and look for the scores - and last year a friend introduced me to the cbs.sportsline.com link that allows you to watch the four games at once. We spent our lunch duty watching the games. (What's worse is now parent conferences are scheduled for the Friday of the first round - so not only do I not get to head straight home after our 12:30 dismissal, but I have to stay until about 5:30 to meet with parents. I guess I have to grow up sometime....and I just found out that this year, the calendar is different - so I might be off the hook, if nothing gets scheduled in on Friday.)
But my obsession with watching the tournament isn't even where I go overboard. It's not gambling either. While I enter a pool each year (and am intrigued each year by different people's scoring systems in the traditional bracket pools, or different pools involving the tournament that don't even revolve around brackets), it's not about the gambling for me. Last year if Georgetown had won it all I would have won some money, but I wasn't heartbroken when they lost to Ohio St.
Nope, for me, it's not about any of that. For me, the NCAA Tournament is all about my personal statistics.
I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but since 1993, I have kept track of my picks in each round of each tournament. So for me, each time March rolls around, it's a chance for me to improve upon my personal best. And last year, I did.
I have no strategy. I just pick the games based on what I know about the regular season, and I like to think I've done so in a more intelligent fashion as the years have gone by (the numbers don't bear that out). Here are some of the numbers:
*Best 1st round performance: 26-6 in 2000
*Best 2nd round performance: 12-4 last year
*I've never done better than 5-3 (6 times) heading into the Elite Eight
*I've never picked all four Final Four teams (I've gotten 3 of 4 three times)
*In 2004 I went 0-for-4 on the Final Four
*My worst year ever was 2006, with a 28-35 record
*My best was 45-18 in 2007
*I've picked the champion just four times in 15 years
*I average 37 wins a year, and there are interesting cycles - when I went to college, I saw a significant dip in total wins, it increased again until I graduated and had to work, and then it increased again until I got married.
*Speaking of marriage, I've also kept track of The Wife's brackets since 2001. She averages 37.5 wins. (The other day I asked The Baby, North Carolina or Duke. She didn't respond. Too young for a bracket.)
If our brackets went head-to-head, I am 3-2-1 against The Wife all-time. But it's not about how I fare against her....it's how I do against myself. And every year at this time, there's always a chance my bracket will end up 63-0.
Postscript: I am using a system this year for games I'm not sure about. I'll update you tomorrow.