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Tougher year for bracket picks

March 7, 2013
By MIKE?MUKLEWICZ - The Scene , Times Leader

Well March is finally upon us, and whether you're a die hard sports fanatic or barely knew it was basketball season, chances are you'll notice all the brackets flying around in the next couple weeks. From workplaces, to locker rooms, and even the White House, the process of filling out brackets has become a yearly tradition for many people across the country for some decades now. There's even a 'science' behind selecting the winners- bracketology.

Bracketology can take many shapes and forms from extensive Skip Bayless analyzation to the good ol' jersey color picking strategy. Surprisingly over the years, I've witnessed two people win bracket pools via color picks- one for a hefty thousand big ones. The chances of picking the winning bracket with the least amount of errors is a combination of luck and things falling into place.

This year though, it might just be one of those years that it wouldn't be a bad idea to start picking colors because there is absolutely no clear cut solid pick to go all the way. The last place you wanted to be this season was ranked #1 in the country. Week after week, we witnessed number one fall. There for awhile it seemed like any time a team got on top, an unranked nobody team would come to rain on the parade. It wasn't that these teams were losing to other highly ranked ball teams, it was those teams that had everything come together right on one certain night to beat a team they probably had no business even being on the same floor with.

Indiana was knocked off twice and now returns for their third stint as the #1 ranked team, after losses to lesser Illinois and Butler teams. Then ranked #20 NC State and #25 Miami both took down Duke as they hung around all year and scooted up to number one twice after Hoosiers' stumbles. Michigan and Lousiville also were the other two teams who made it up there for a week or two. But, while all these teams have been solid, no one teams stands out amongst the others. Yes, Indiana has spent the most time up ranked #1 but even they show some wavers in consistency, especially after dropping one to a 9-loss Minnesota team.

Their conference has been no cake walk. The Big Ten has been absolutely brutal with the physical play this season, leaving teams having to wear themselves down before March- just to ensure they make it that far.

So if you see those brackets flying around, this year wouldn't be a bad year to pick one up even if you don't have a clue. You won't get a perfect bracket, but the sports gurus might get wiped out in a hurry this year if the season is any foreshadow to the match-ups in March. The people I do feel bad for though, is those delegated to help seed the teams. That might be harder than picking bracket selections, although the possibilities of some of the teams being matched up and playing is intriguing.

It's always fun to follow college basketball, the conferences, and the beat of it all throughout the season, but for some teams they just never see each-other on the floor. Yet, we compare all these teams, from all these conferences, in rankings to gauge who is the best. It's like comparing fractions with an X on the bottom of each of them. There's no common denominator until March. Well it's here!

The chances of perfecting a bracket are mind blowing despite the millions that are submitted each year. There are over 147.57 quintillion possible outcomes to a 64 team bracket. That's a huge number, quintillion? A what? Just to put it in some numerical objective terms for everyone, there are 147,573,952,589,676,412,928 different possible combinations to fill out a bracket. With that said, good luck!



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