Sunday, March 14, 2004

It's NCAA tournament time, which means that again it's time for sportswriters to recycle the same stories they "wrote" last year.

My personal beef is the story about the bracket with six or seven tough teams. Sportswriters will bemoan the fate of the #1 seed in that bracket by listing each of the other six strong teams in that bracket, saying that they have to "get through all these tough teams". (It will be the "toughest bracket" or perhaps even the "bracket of death", depending on which brand of hyperbole the particular writer ate for breakfast.)

This has bugged me for years because it's so completely false. The obvious reason is that no team will play more than four other teams in its bracket! Each #1 seed gets one gimme game anyway, so they're actually facing at most three tough games. It doesn't matter that there are six tough teams, because they're only going to play three of them! To take an easy example, this year St. Joe's is in the same bracket as Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin. Dangerous! (I don't follow college basketball much, so I don't know much about these teams, but my point will work for whichever bracket Dick "The Obvious" Vitale decides is the most stacked.) It's irrelevant that these teams are all dangerous, because St. Joe's will play, at most, one of them (all three of those teams are in the bottom half of that bracket). The others will knock each other out first.

But sportswriters will write the story anyway, because why write something interesting when one can submit the same cliche'd-yet-nonsensical story from last year? (As a sidenote, it's different in the World Cup, where each team in a group of four plays the other three teams. In that round-robin format, one can really have a group of death, because you have to play everybody to get out.)

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