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Bring on the madness

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Casey Pritchard's picture

Brackets, brackets everywhere.

The NCAA tournament begins this week, meaning work productivity will decrease dramatically Thursday and Friday around the country.

While that might be infuriating to bosses of the world, it's not the reason the tournament has been appropriately named March Madness.

The madness comes from brackets getting busted, which generally occurs when cinderella story teams do the improbable and beat one of the powerhouse schools. One example includes Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), a No. 11 seed, march all the way to the Final Four, knocking off No. 1 Kansas along the way.

Five years earlier, another No. 11 seed made the Final Four. This time, it was George Mason, who beat Michigan State, North Carolina and No. 1 Connecticut to get there.

More recent history includes No. 15's beating No. 2 seeds. Last year, Middle Tennessee State pulled the upset over Michigan State, busting plenty of brackets – including mine. It happened twice in 2012, as Lehigh beat Duke and Norfolk State beat Missouri.

However, the one thing to never happen is a No. 1 seed getting upset by a No. 16. There have been some close instances, including a 2013 matchup between Gonzaga and Southern. The game was tied with less than four minutes to play, but Gonzaga managed to pull out a six-point win. The biggest of upsets has never happened, so the record books remain intact, but records are made to be broken.

Ironically, while most people want to see a No. 1 seed go down in the first round for the historical significance, most No. 1 seeds project to make it easily into the Sweet 16, or much further, in their respective brackets. That means people are slightly hesitant to root for a No. 16 seed because of the impact it could have on their own bracket.

Where the fun really begins is the No. 5 versus No. 12 matchup, where there always seems to at least one upset per season. Last year, it was Arkansas-Little Rock and Yale taking down Purdue and Baylor, respectively. In 2013 and 2014, three 12 seeds beat 5s. However, in 2015 a 12 didn't win at all. The 5-seeds sweeping the bracket is a rarity though. Since 2000, it's only happened three times: 2000, 2007 and 2015. Overall, it happens nearly 36 percent of the time, meaning you should at least select one 12 to beat a 5 every year. Just make sure you choose the correct one.

Now, there's also the issue of the play-in games – the ones that started Tuesday and conclude today involving 11 and 16 seeds vying for the last spots in the 64-team bracket. I understand the significance of allowing more teams into the tournament, but does anybody really want to include these when filling out their brackets, especially when it's meaningless 16 seeds we have to consider? Get rid of the play-in games please.

The real question is, where will you be watching? Will you be watching them at work through the CBS website, utilizing the “boss” button? What a great invention. While watching a game, you can click on a button that says “boss” on it, which flips the game to a spreadsheet that looks like Microsoft Excel. Genius for when your boss might be walking by your desk and you don't want him/her to know you're watching sports instead of working.

Or maybe you'll be “calling in sick.” Make sure today you're hacking up a lung, just so it doesn't seem suspicious when you have to email your boss tomorrow.

The ultimate though, if you've never done it, is going to Las Vegas for the opening weekend of the tournament. With so many games going on simultaneously, many of the Vegas sports books have set up auditoriums where four games can be watched side-by-side. In addition to fandom, the fact people are betting money on the games makes for a great atmosphere.

Wherever you may watch, enjoy the tournament. March Madness happens just once a year, and it shouldn't be taken for granted. The years I've done that, I've missed some epic games and wished I had paid more attention to. It's called madness for a reason, so get into the maddening spirit.


Casey Pritchard can be reached at or on Twitter @CaseyonSports.

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