Somewhere in an office of wall-to-wall cubicles, Orville the ornithologist is leading the NCAA Tournament pool, even though he never has seen a basketball game. Orville favored schools with bird mascots when filling out his bracket.
The Creighton Blue Jays (1-1), Florida Gulf-Coast Eagles (2-0), Kansas Jayhawks (2-0), Long Island University Blackbirds (0-1), Louisville Cardinals (2-0), Marquette Golden Eagles (2-0), Oregon Ducks (2-0) and Temple Owls (1-1) have combined to go 12-3 so far.
Two rows to the west, three cubicles to the north sits Wilhelmina, wearing, as usual, way too much perfume. She never quite stays within the lines when applying her lipstick. Her pin board serves as a shrine to her 13 cats. So does her NCAA Tournament bracket. Poor Wilhelmina, she’s in last place.
The Cincinnati Bearcats (0-1), Southern Jaguars (0-1), Arizona (2-0), Davidson (0-1), Kansas State (0-1) and Villanova (0-1) Wildcats and Missouri (0-1) and Pacific Tigers (0-1) are a combined 2-7.
Don’t fret, Wilhelmina. Politically Incorrect Patrick, Pip for short — he never has had a thought that didn’t quickly roll off his tongue — isn’t doing so hot either. The Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-1) let him down. As Pip is quick to point out, it’s been a tough tourney for the Irish in general, and Colleen in the cubicle behind him has not had a good March with ND and the Iona and Saint Mary’s Gaels combining to go 1-3.
Kevin’s home page is the Weather Channel website. He obsessively follows natural disasters. Sensing co-workers find that morbidly creepy, he attempts to ease his guilt by saying, “I do like them, as long as nobody dies or gets hurt, of course.” He fools no one. Thanks to the Iowa State Cyclones (1-1) and Miami Hurricanes (2-0), his bracket’s not looking too shabby. It would look even better had Iowa State not been undermined by disastrous officiating, naturally. Doesn’t that always happen to good guy Fred Hoiberg?
Punk Rock Pete, who alternately colors his hair orange and red, is right there with Kevin, thanks to the Harvard Crimson (1-1) and Syracuse Orange (2-0).
Alabama Al decorates his workspace with Bear Bryant memorabilia. His dauber’s down. The California Golden Bears (1-1), Montana Grizzlies (0-1) and Belmont (0-1) and UCLA Bruins (0-1) did Alabama Al no favors.
Oh, well, Alabama Al and the rest of those in possession of busted brackets can take solace in a second-chance Sweet 16 office pool. So what to do?
Well, Orville the ornithologist will advance bird mascots to the Final Four and go with the favorite when it’s bird against bird. Following that method, Kansas tops Michigan and then Florida Gulf Coast and advances to the Final Four to face Marquette, the third Final Four meeting of the schools. Marquette won in 1974, 64-51, Kansas in 2003, 94-61. Louisville advances as well. What to do in the West, which doesn’t have any remaining bird mascots? Go with Ohio State, based on coach Thad Matta’s facial resemblance to a Bird, Larry. Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed, defeats Kansas, the No. 2 overall seed in the title game.
Or you could copy the bracket strategy of the former high school football star in the office. He remains in great shape and never passes a mirror without stopping to check it out, ending the encounter with a point, a wink and a clicking sound. He thinks his office mates nicknamed him “Big 10” because he’s big and he’s a perfect 10. Actually, it’s because he reminds them all of a big 10-year-old boy. In fairness, that moniker was pinned on him a few years ago, and he has matured since then. Big 12 would be more accurate, but for branding purposes he still is referred to as Big 10. Naturally, he favors Big Ten schools in making predictions, and Illinois (1-1), Indiana (2-0), Michigan (2-0), Michigan State (2-0), Minnesota (1-1), Ohio State (2-0) and Wisconsin (0-1) have combined to go 10-3 so far. Big (for short) will have Indiana defeating Michigan in one national semifinal, Ohio State knocking out Michigan State in the other, and will make the Hoosiers his national champion.
Whatever you do, don’t study match-ups and trends when filling out brackets. That garbage never works. Too serious. It pays to play loose during March Madness.