That said, you can tell a lot about a person from the name they assign their entry. And with the rest of the world clamoring over sleeper picks and other assorted bracket tips, here are a handful of the popular entry names you're bound to see over the next few weeks, and more importantly, what they say about your competition:
Client No. 9
This person is edgy, risky and willing to pay good money to enter a pool, knowing full well that such conduct is technically illegal and that, somehow, they'll end up getting screwed by a previously-anonymous Cinderella team ... ultimately leading to their demise.
Kiss from a Rose
Vegas would put even odds on this person picking Memphis to go deep in the tournament or being a closet Derrick Rose fanatic. Either way, this competitor's bracket, like the confusing lyrics by Seal, is bound to be half-serious and half-Britney-Spears-crazy. Don't be surprised to see this person pick a questionable Final Four of Memphis, UCLA, St. Joe's and Siena.
Don't tase me, (Hans)bro
There is a 100-percent chance this person put way too much thought into his or her entry name. Likewise, this competitor over-analyzed the brackets, second-guessed every selection, and wound up picking a slew of upsets that will never happen. (Coincidentally, this is my entry's name. Hmmm ...)
Sheet of Integrity
This person lacks all creativity and is one of approximately 5,000,000 to name his or her bracket after the popular contest on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning. Additionally, he or she lacks the imagination to pick all 63 games without "expert" advice, and consequently, should never be your partner in Pictionary. This opponent is a follower expect a Final Four consisting of all No. 1 seeds OR every hot-handed team in the tournament (i.e. -- North Carolina, Clemson, Pittsburgh, UCLA).
Smith Entry 1
Using the default name assigned to most bracket pool entries, this person put minimal thought into his or her picks and entered the office pool on a whim, or perhaps by accident. Seeking no expert advice, this competitor also chose winners based on uniform colors and mascot ferocity. Yet despite his or her lack of basketball knowledge, this person has been the frontrunner to win every tournament pool since 1939.
Throughout history, groundbreaking inventions and discoveries have altered the course of human existence. The printing press. The wheel. Fire.
Anyone care if I add the "Boss button" to the list?
A few years ago, through the splendor of the Internet, CBS and the NCAA teamed up to stream all the action to your computer in real-time -- "March Madness On-Demand," if you will -- making it easier than ever to tank the productivity of your particular employer. The only real limiting factor was the privacy offered by your chest-high cubicle walls. Until now.
Somewhere, a technological whiz with the foresight of Mark Zuckerberg had the wherewithal to incorporate a "Boss button" into the CBS streaming video player. Appropriately named, this small, clickable object near the bottom of the screen kills all sound to your speakers and switches the screen from the high-octane action of the NCAA Tournament to an innocuous still image of an Excel spreadsheet. In terms of enablers, this thing is the Holy Grail. Now all you need is an elaborate series of mirrors to monitor the hallways, and you're all set. It's a bulletproof plan.
So here's to you, Mr. "Boss Button" Inventor Guy. On a day when companies battle raging inefficiency and sleeper cells of illegal gambling, you're helping hide the damage.
All year, we've been tagging both USC and Kansas State as potential sleepers in the NCAA Tournament, eagerly awaiting the brackets before touting their respective chances of wreaking havoc on the field. So, it'd be about right that the selection committee would stick a pitchfork in our backs and pit O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley against each other ... in the FIRST FREAKING ROUND. Thanks a lot, guys.
With plenty of other teams from which to pick, you have to figure the committee did this intentionally to spice up an otherwise predictable slate of Omaha, Nebraska-based first-and-second round drubbings featuring Wisconsin, Cal State Fullerton, Kansas, and three others that have no chance against Kansas. Heck, it might just be the closest the city of Omaha will ever come to hosting a real NBA event.
The biggest first-week upset of the 2008 NCAA Tournament? Try Billy Packer's relatively tranquil line of questioning when put face-to-face with Tom O'Connor, the chairman of this year's selection committee. Seriously, where'd that come from? The man seemed genuinely giddy! As I said on Friday, there were 3-1 odds on Packer's Hidden Agenda (BPHA) taking some subtle jab at a mid-major with an at-large bid. But a repeat of Packer's epic 2006 diatribe against small schools never happened. Instead, Packer was composed, thought-provoking and almost completely lucid while talking with O'Connor, raising few concerns about the committee's decisions and quelling the BPHA -- perhaps through meditation and yoga -- to the point that it was barely noticeable.
Two weeks ago, we opened up this section to you, the general public. Feel free to send me your selections, but don't forget to send along your warped rationale as well ...
1. Better party game?Scattergories / Scene It
2. Better No. 7 seed? West Virginia / Butler
3. More frustrating Nintendo game?Q-Bert / Burger Time
4. Easier road to Elite Eight? UCLA / Texas
5. More controversial cartoon?Ren and Stimpy / Beavis and Butthead
6. Better play-in team? Mount St. Mary's / Coppin St.
7. Bigger rip-off? Cell phones / Bottled water
8. More reliable scouting tool? The "Eye Test" / The "Vitale Bald Dome Index"
9. Worse female fashion trend? All-weather scarves / The "Posh" Spice haircut
10. More likely upset victim? Gonzaga / Oklahoma
Two weeks ago, my "Get off the fence" questions elicited several responses, but kudos to John from Florida State for raising a fantastic question in the process of describing his own answers:
"Why aren't there any Weekend Update clips with Norm McDonald as the host [on Saturday Night Live] on YouTube?"
Honestly, I have no idea. In a bizarre "chicken-or-the-egg" way, this question has absolutely no correct answer. But here's an even better question: Why aren't there any clips of Tim Meadows playing O.J. Simpson floating around? You know, the ones with him accidentally confessing while on the stand or burying money in his backyard? These are arguably some of the funniest SNL moments of all-time, and you literally cannot find them ANYWHERE, be it on the Internet, DVD, VHS or laser disc. I've been looking for upwards of 10 years to find these and may finally be on the verge of e-mailing Lorne Michaels to express my discontent.
Mark me down for North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, and UCLA in the Final Four with the Tar Heels cutting down the nets in San Antonio.
Ty Hildenbrandt writes Campus Quick Slants every week. E-mail Ty at email@example.com with your comments, questions, and random observations.