Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Another victim of the brackets

MY bracket crashed at tip-off Thursday morning, and it's been downhill ever since. Which only goes to show us that gamblers are either brave, or stupid, or both.

Nobody knows what's going to happen. Nobody. That's so apparent the more the games go on. Anybody who claims to be able to break down a 64-team bracket is either lucky, or lying, or both.

I vote both.

But we vicariously put ourselves on the line for little schools we've never heard of or titanic giants sure of ultimate victory. And we see, as we sweat out every score from across the land during this first weekend of NCAA mayhem, we had two modes as we filled things out: lucky and stupid.

But it's all so clear afterward, isn't it? I swore I wrote Notre Dame on my bracket in the first round, and of course Missouri winning made perfect sense. And we see now Gonzaga was destined for a fall. And Hawaii ... well, there's still no explanation for that.

I loved the NCAA's branching brackets when I watched each game for watching's sake, thrilling with underdogs, rooting for favorites, waiting for buzzer-beaters and inspirational music and unbelievable dunks. It was every bit as wonderful as Billy Packer said.

For 72 hours we danced with Cinderella, no matter who she might have been. It didn't matter. It was a surprise, and that was the very best part.

This year, of course, I made the mistake of filling out a bracket.

Now I care. I care too much. It took about eight seconds before this NCAA Tournament turned me into George Costanza.

"They're screwing me!"

"I'm losing it!"

"George is getting frustrated!"

But I'm past that now. I have evolved. Into Frank Costanza.

I have a deeper understanding of everything now. And it's very freeing to admit to yourself that you really know nothing at all. It's true. The upsets bear that out. And the upsets that never happened bear that out. The experts are fools.

Yeah, you can pick the Final Four. You can draw with chalk and look OK in the end. But guessing game after game after game -- filling a bracket -- is a maddening experience.

All my hunches went wrong. Arizona either goes out in the first round or goes all the way, so I gambled on the Wildcats being notorious early chokers. Ahem.

Bobby Knight has won three national titles. You would think he'd have another run in him sooner or later. No.

Pepperdine. Everyone in the country said watch out for Pepperdine. I'm still watching.

Kent State. Everyone in the country said Kent State was this year's Cinderella sleeper. Naturally, I went the other way.


Yes, I was the only person alive to pick UNC-Wilmington in the first round, but that was erased by the overrated Rick (I had him good for two games) Majerus coughing up a donut.

Not that I'm bitter.

They e-mailed me the standings in one of those Internet $10 million bracket challenges.

I'm in 226,000th place.

Serenity now.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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