March Madness causing madness; Upsets destroying brackets

Cornell University celebrating its upset over the University of Wisconsin last Sunday. (AP Photo)

As I sit here, defeated and ashamed of a bracket that only contains a lowly seven of the final 16 teams remaining in the 2010 Division I Men’s tournament, I have determined one thing – March Madness is evil.

Sometime around mid-March, as conference tournaments come to a close, it begins. Talking heads like Joe Linardi and Dick Vitale surface to give the average Joe what may seem like inside and helpful information. Selection Sunday, the day/night when these horrific concoctions of numbers and lines are created, is comparable to the birth of the anti-christ.

On the following Monday, the chaos fueled by ardent optimism begins. Everyone becomes an expert, swearing on all that they hold holy that a No. 13 seed will upset a No. 4, and that one of the No. 1 seeds has less of a chance in the tournament than a group of impoverished girl scouts.

Pools and pseudo gambling rings form in all corners of the country as all walks of life, from the CEO to the mailroom clerk, try to make that one pick that will set them apart from their obviously inferior peers. This year, I had invested my cash, as well as my emotional well-being in Villanova University reclaiming a spot in the Final Four and even challenging Kansas University in the final.

Unfortunately, if you have not grimaced at the above statement already, both teams have been eliminated to my chagrin, and I now am simply praying for each game to be entertaining, as my cash has been wasted. And in a tournament where only one No. 3 seed (Baylor University) and one No. 4 seed (Purdue University) remain, entertainment has been plentiful this tournament.

Four teams from the lower half of seeding remain in the Sweet 16, and although they have been the ones to undoubtedly screw me out of a payday that I enjoyed when University of North Carolina won last season, credit must be given. The No. 9-seeded University of Northern Iowa pulled a huge upset when it dethroned Kansas 69-67, many brackets’ pick for the overall champion, including my own.

The Gaels of No. 10-seeded Saint Mary’s College also ruined my life for the next few weeks when they took down No. 2-seeded Villanova 75-68. No. 11-seeded University of Washington, the lone squad remaining from the Pac-10 Conference, throttled University of New Mexico 82-64, and has appeared to be much stronger than its seeded suggests.

The lowest seed to breathe life into this tournament is No. 12-seeded Cornell University, coming out of the usually overmatched Ivy League. The Big Red have taken out both No. 5-seeded Temple University and No. 4-seeded University of Wisconsin, and will now try to upset No. 1-seeded Kentucky – many analysts’ new favorite to win the whole shebang – in what would be one of the bigger shocks in recent tournament memory.

Yes, this piece was more or less written as a means to vent my frustrations over a March Madness that has thrown myself, and many others for a loop in our preconceived notions of how to pick a bracket. The bottom line is obvious. There is little to no skill involved in marking up these godforsaken pieces of paper, and many pools are likely going to have the uninformed fan, who picked his/her bracket by which team’s mascot was more enjoyable, taking home the cash and leaving the rest of us tearing our hair.