Monday, March 18, 2013

The 10 Types of Brackets

It's that time of year again. Hope springs eternal. Millions of hours of work around the country are lost and production drops off like an entitled athlete who just got their biggest contract of their career.

This is the year you are going to finally break through and have that stellar bracket you have always longed for. You scour multiple sites looking for statistics and guidance, then you sign up on all of them to create a bracket (or four) and over analyze  every game- because this is the year all your tutelage pays off. Your diligence will serve you wisely, you think.

But when it comes down to it, it's all just a crap shoot. Any team can lose on any night, and any small school can shoot lights out- and down goes the assumed champion.

This is the time of year for me when I feel like a college student cramming to study a semester's worth of material in one night, and walking into the test thinking "I have this. I have to have this."

In this scenario, the material is the college basketball season as a whole. It begins in the fall when you have no grasp on how good teams really are. You follow your team closely, and outside of that, you just check rankings each week and get a general idea of the college basketball landscape.

Now that the bracket is set and you can make your groups then select your picks, it brings to mind the madness of March.

I take the "Pringles Approach". Also known as the "Bracket Addict Approach." You can't have just one. Fill out five brackets, each with different tweaks, based off how your mindset was for each one. Without further ado, I present to you the ten types of brackets. 

Type 1:  The "Realist" Bracket

This bracket type is the most straight forward. Most of the time it is chosen by selecting the higher seeded team in each round. The higher seed is only overridden when statistics and pundits all universally agree the lower seed is better than the higher seed, due in large part to the higher seed being overrated. Realist Brackets always go against any irrational thinking, such as selecting your team to go four rounds deep, because, well....they are your team and THEY RULE- apparently. Which brings us to the next type.

Type 2:  The "High-Wire" Bracket

The ballsiest people make only one bracket. This is truly remarkable. It's like that one guy who only has one fantasy football team. You can't believe it, because if it goes bad...there's nothing to fall back on. No back-up bracket or team. This person is a high wire act without a net.

Type 3: The "Iliad/Odyssey" Bracket- a.k.a The Homer Bracket

The "Homer" Bracket revolves around your team winning mostly any match up, regardless of how good they actually are. The worst kind of these is easy to spot: the person's team wins it all, going against any semblance of rational thought. Trying to have a discussion with this kind of "bracketologist" is like talking to a three-year old.

"So why'd you choose them?"



"Because! Shut up. Where's my grilled cheese?"

Type 4: The "Realist Homer" Bracket

This is a combination of types 1 and 3. This is the perfect blend for any college basketball fan. You always think your team is great, but now so does everyone else around the country. It makes it easier to push them through each round, because they are YOUR team and they are THAT good.

Type 5: "The Shining" Bracket

This kind of bracket picking is based on your first thought on each match up without any regard for ranking or popular opinion. It's all about your gut instinct. You think once, you choose. These brackets cannot be changed- your first selection is your final selection. This kind of process may not be conventional, but like Jack Nicholson was said, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Type 6:   "The Dirty Harry" Bracket

This is a hybrid of The High Wire and Shining Brackets. They choose only one bracket and only use their gut instinct each time. This kind of selection process makes for the most fearless, confident gambler out there. If you know of this kind of person and see them in a dark alley- back away and live to fight another day. So you feeling lucky? Well do ya, punk?

Type 7: "The Harvey Dent" Bracket, also known as "The Two-Face" Bracket

Each match-up is selected using a coin. It may not turn out pretty, but the only thing is technically up to chance, right? Why not do one of these and give it a shot.

Type 8: The "Mad Scientist" Bracket 

You pour over hours of statistics, schedules, injury updates, late season momentum and win streaks as well as various kinds of film and "insider analysis". Each pick is chosen with painstaking attention to detail- this is the exact opposite of the "Harvey Dent" Bracket. Your browser history makes you seem like Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and Doug Gottleib melted into one mega-college basketball-knowing being. Your cell phone goes unanswered and you might not leave your room for more than twenty-four hours. "Leave the meal at the door" is a commonly said phrase, while ESPN plays on your T.V. in the background. Oh and chances are- you're wrong, too.

Type 9: The "Truman Show" Bracket

This kind of selector is oblivious to college basketball. At best, they are a casual fan. They ignore common sense and popular opinion and blindly make selections such as "cooler mascots", or some girls' thoughts on "cuter colors". Wins and losses might be the only statistic looked at by these mindless prognosticators.

 Type 10: The "Jack Bauer" Bracket 

Any one of these bracket-picking types, (aside from "Mad Scientist") but while using a timer to keep you on track. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

You might be asking yourself- so where is the best place to get my inside information? How can I keep myself up-to-date on all the latest news and buzz? Well, the truth is all of the college basketball shows and sites are dealing with the same information, it's all about the presentation and how easy everything is to access. There is no one true consensus in where to go, but in my opinion one of the easiest to use is ESPN's. Each match-up is broken down based off records, patterns, top players, statistics, etc.

The first day or two of games is usually a close affair between everyone's brackets, barring any major upsets. The second round is when the men are separated from the boys.  You'll wonder how people have such great brackets. It's all a matter of chance. There is no perfect formula- no matter how ESPN tries to present stats- they are still numbers everyone has access to.

Godspeed, college basketball fortune-tellers. May the gods of the brackets have mercy on your educated or uneducated predictions. 

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know @SeanNeutron.

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