March Madness is unavoidable. Some 70 million brackets are filled out every year — compared to 129 million votes in the presidential election. Most businesses have office pools for their employees to try to win a pot and over $9 billion was gambled, both legally and illegally, on the NCAA tournament last year.
When something is that popular, naturally, some of those people participating are going to be unbearable. That’s just the way the world works.
“Look how many people are here. Some of you are sh—y people, there’s no question,” Aziz Ansari said in his 2012 stand-up “Dangerously Delicious” in front of a crowd of less than 2,000. That’s about where I find myself with March Madness — surrounded by people who are utterly annoying with their bracket “formula” that no one but themselves cares about.
Only two things are similar between all of these types people: They are going to be wrong a lot, and they are irritating beyond belief. And if you haven’t recognized these people before, you certainly will once they’ve been identified.
These people don’t know anything about how basketball works or the teams in the NCAA Tournament, which is all good and well. But the clueless are only truly recognized when they begin to brag about their aloofness. They use coin flips, mascots, and team colors to choose their winners. But they especially won’t shut up about how they used coin flips and mascots to make those choices because they just don’t care about sports. Their gall approach takes five steps up on the annoying scale when their bracket actually starts doing well, and they keep reminding you, “I don’t even know anything sports!”
This person has absolutely no rooting interest, unless they have money on something, whether it be an over-under or the game result itself. These people are gambling on individual games, and digging for every sliver of information on the two teams in any game. These are also the people who go beyond the analysts and experts and their typical Cinderella picks and lands on their own, usually dictated by Vegas odds. This person has mostly sold their soul to sports, but they have the highest highs and lowest lows of anyone else in the tournament.
There is some overlap between the statistician and the gambler, except the statistician actually likes basketball and has a soul. Statisticians also can sometimes stay quiet, keeping their obscure Ken Pomeroy numbers about Vanderbilt’s offensive steal rate and Butler’s free-throw rate to themselves. Certainly, plenty of people will lean on Ken Pomeroy to pick their bracket, but then there are those who believe tournament history and stats from the last four tournaments will dictate how this one goes and those who base their brackets on tournament history. These people usually don’t cheer for a team, but at least they have more of a spine than the gamblers.
These are the ones who fill out 10 brackets — an upset bracket, a favorite team bracket, a no upsets bracket, a coin flip bracket, and whatever else they can find to be more and more wrong. Then, when one of those 10 is doing well, you won’t hear the end of how they picked a No. 15-seed over a No. 2-seed and had every other upset right on one bracket. These are the people who actually believe that making a good March Madness bracket makes you look like a college basketball God. Breaking news: it doesn’t. It just makes you lucky. If you make more than one bracket, and if you ever call more than one bracket your “main bracket,” you are an insufferable human.
Without a shadow of a doubt, their favorite team is the champion in this person’s bracket, without even checking out the other 67 teams. Of course, there’s some validity in that when you’re a Kansas basketball fan. But this strategy has less validity for your friend, a Wichita State (a 10-seed) fan, or your other friend, a Kansas State (11-seed) fan. Beyond how annoying it is for a fan of a mediocre team to actually believe their team will make it in this crapshoot of a tournament, it’s completely non-sensical to believe their team can even make it to the Elite Eight every time they're in the tournament — nonetheless win it all.
— Edited by Casey Brown