Here's the scenario: down 2 points with less than 5 seconds remaining in the game, Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas takes an inbound pass, dribbles, gets a screen from his teammates, and fires a potential game winning three from beyond the arc. Time momentarily stands still while the ball hangs in the air, ready to bust thousands of brackets across the country and send the 2nd seeded Ohio State Buckeyes home early.
What outcome do you root for? Sure, anyone but OSU grads would love to see another Cinderella story, but what about those who have the Buckeyes going far in their bracket? We might love to see upsets, but not at our own expense right? How could you possibly root for an outcome that would ruin your bracket's credibility? It's easy, really. Trust me. March is much more enjoyable when you embrace the madness.
Just to clarify, I am not trying to discourage anyone from filling out a bracket. The NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament is the best annual sporting event in the world, and filling out a bracket is a huge part of what makes March so great. Average sports fans suddenly become bracketologists, while even your Aunt who knows nothing about college hoops is picking teams based on which mascot she likes more. It’s one of the annual traditions we missed so much this time last year when Covid wrecked the 2020 edition of March Madness.
What I am trying to do, however, is encourage everyone not to live and die with their bracket. Trust me, you will enjoy the next three weeks so much more. Sure, if Michigan and Alabama meet in the Elite 8, root for whoever you want. But don't cheer for the Texas Longhorns in the first round just because you have them as a dark horse. Instead you should put your allegiance behind Abilene Christian, the little school from Texas with a chance to knock off the most prominent university in its state. That is what March is all about.
The bottom line is this - Don't be too prideful to root against one of your own picks. Bracket success or failure relates to sports knowledge about as much as passing your drivers test proves you are a good driver. Even the biggest college hoops analysts and fans are going to be wrong, just like the most responsible teenager on the planet might fail their drivers test once or twice.
So by all means, fill out a bracket and talk trash amongst your family, friends, and co-workers. Just make sure you don't get so caught up in being correct that you miss out on the madness.
Wesley Uhler is the host of Steelers Blitz, Noon-2 on Steelers Nation Radio, and The Afternoon Delight on ESPN Pittsburgh, 2-7pm. You can find him on Twitter @WesleyUhler.
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