In past years I have been that fan on the fence, back and forth and never knowing who I should cheer for, but not this year. If I had done a bracket, I would not have been able to celebrate number two seed Missouri’s first round defeat without so much as an afterthought. I became a Norfolk State fan faster than you can say upset.
A number two seed has not fallen in the first round in 11 years, and it has only happened five times ever. However this year, it happened twice. Basketball powerhouse Duke also fell to mid-major Lehigh out of the Patriot League. None of ESPN’s ‘bracketologists’ could have predicted that. Those two games that I was able to sit back and watch unfold, had those who had completed a bracket pulling their hair out.
Brackets make people so competitive that they lose themselves in the heat of the game. For instance, when Syracuse’s starting center, Fab Melo was declared ineligible, other fans were rejoicing. Or North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall broke his wrist, and opposing fans are hoping that he will not recover in time to play. Personally, I can not help but feel bad for these athletes who may never have an opportunity like this again.
That being said, there is a more important reason that I have found peace with not doing a bracket. I get to cheer for the team I cheered for all season, the Kansas Jayhawks. This makes me feel like a more loyal fan because as soon as they lose, I lose interest. Then when the National Championship comes around, I do not have to cheer for a team I hate, like Kentucky just because it helps my bracket.
Now, I am not going to demean brackets and say I have no clue why people do them, because I get it. The bragging rights that come out of beating your friends, or comparing yours to people from all over the country on ESPN.com, there’s nothing wrong with it. I am always interested to see who President Obama selects on ‘Presidential Picks’ every year. But I have loved every second of watching these games from an unbiased perspective, and I plan to do this for years to come.