Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The NCAA basketball tournament got underway last night with the “play-in” game that determined the team that would earn the 64th and final spot in the “big dance.” For those of you who missed it, Niagara defeated Florida A & M and earned the privilege of getting pummeled by Kansas in their next game. But, the field is now set and Niagara is in it; they should be proud.

I confess that I am not much of a basketball fan. I am a hard-core fan of baseball, which is the world’s most perfect sport. I also like to watch college football; it’s a great spectacle. Somewhere along the way I lost my interest in basketball. It wasn’t always that way. We lived in Louisville, Kentucky for seven years and during that time I became a fan of the University of Louisville Cardinals. They won a national championship during our first school year in Louisville (1979-1980) and during our last year there (1985-1986). They’ve not won one since. Obviously, we functioned as a good luck charm for them.

Lots of people all over the country are filling out their tournament brackets this week. Given that I’ve stopped keeping close watch on college basketball, I don’t do that anymore. I have considered conducting an experiment, though. I’ve heard of people conducting a similar test with the stock market. Here’s how it works. First, get some expert financial managers to select the stocks they think are going to do well. Second, get another group to select a portfolio by taping the stock market pages from a newspaper to a wall and throwing darts at it; they then buy the stocks that their darts hit. Then, at the end of twelve months, see whose stocks have done better. So, I thought about throwing darts at the bracket and seeing how it turns out.

Of course, I could do a careful analysis of each team and try to pick the perfect bracket. The perfect bracket would be one in which you pick the correct winner of every game all the way to the final. I heard somewhere that the odds of doing that are one in one quadrillion. A quadrillion is a one followed by fifteen zeroes, or six more zeros than in a billion. I understand that you have much better though still astronomical odds of winning the lottery or even of getting struck by lightning while you’re going to buy a lottery ticket. Still, lots of people are going to try and lots of people are going to bet lots of money on the outcome.

As for me, I’ll just sort of pay attention until they get down to the Final Four. If I can, I’ll watch the National Championship game.

For what it’s worth, here’s my pick: Belmont University, the #15 seed in the East Region, will go all the way. After all, I used to work there, and I’m a good luck charm.

Just ask the Louisville Cardinals.

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