Downeast Madness
by Brian North

My eyes can barely stay open, my head hurts, and my life is out of whack. It's March, and the madness is in full effect. I have stared at my bracket for the amusement-purposes-only office pool, contemplated the upsets, the favorites, and the final four. I have listened to the experts, studied the internet capsules on each of the 64 teams left, and I am more confused than ever. The information can be overwhelming. A 16th seed has never upset a one seed. A 5th seed has never won the whole thing. A 12th seed has upset a five seed 99 of the last 100 years (or so it seems). Arizona and Syracuse have both won titles, but have been known for first rounds flops. Every year a UAB, Southern Illinois, or Nevada makes an unexpected, unforeseen run to the sweet 16, but the next year they are replaced by a new team (UTEP or Niagara anyone?).

Every time I go to fill in a line, I start to second guess myself. Gonzaga is a third seed, steadily improving each year, but Winthrop has the longest winning streak in the nation going into the tourney, and having seen the Eagles throttle ECU in person, so I want to pick the upset. It goes on like this for each one.

I have laundry piled up, bills that need to be paid, work that should be done, but yet the bracket consumes me. Luckily I have not forgotten to eat, and there are other games to distract me (nationally ranked ECU baseball, Mount Olive basketball making a run for the division two national title with a slew of players from downeast), but still the pressure is there to pick a winner.

But it's all for naught. The NCAA Tournament is too unpredictable, andthat's what makes it so great. No matter how much I study, the secretary who picks the team uniform with her favorite color, or the city where her aunt lives will win the whole thing.

Now if college football would only figure out that this madness thing is a lot of fun.

Brian North