It's the most wonderful time of the year.
I love NCAA basketball tournament time. I love the fact, that in a sports world bent on parity and getting the most competitive, evenly matched teams together (except, of course, in the case of the New York Yankees), we get, in the first round, the very best teams playing the very worst teams to make it to the dance.
A number 16 seeded team has never defeated a 1st seeded team in the history of this tournament set up. But I love the fact that somebody might some day.
Filling out your brackets is always more art than skill. There was a hilarious piece in the New York Times the other day about the kind of person you are if you take one of the common bracketology philosophies (favorites, data junkies, team mascots, etc.) to heart.
My own philosophy is to pick some upsets in the first round (often number 12s over number 5s) and then get more conservative in the succeeding rounds, but still picking at least one and sometimes two teams that aren't number 1 seeds to make it to the Final Four.
The hard question, of course, is whether to go with the home team or not. Most years I pick the Badgers to go all the way to the Final Four, just so I don't have to be conflicted about who to cheer for. But this year I did a bad thing. In one of my brackets I have the Badgers out in the first round, losing to Montana, and in the other I have them out in the second round.
Unfortunately, that's based on an educated hunch. When Bucky gets cold from the outside it's over, and that happens too much. Plus, the Badgers have never been a great tournament team, despite making it to the dance more years in a row than all but four other teams in this year's tournament.
There's also some calculated ruthlessness in my picks. I know that most of my fellow bracketeers will be picking the home team, so going against Bucky gives me an edge if they lose.
I know. This is cold. This is calculating. This is treasonable. This is heresy. But cold, calculated treasonable heresy is just another of the freedoms afforded me since leaving public office. And, truth is, despite knowing where my economic interests lie, I know I'll end up rooting for the guys in red and white anyway.