The voices made me do it |

The voices made me do it

How’s your bracket?

For 11 months of the year, the only time that question might get asked is on a home improvement television show. In March, though, those four words become as common a salutation as “How are you?” or “How about the weather?”

That’s because people want to know whether you picked the No. 12 seed upset over the No. 5 seed.

Growing up 15 miles from Allen Field House, the home of the Kansas Jayhawks, I’ve always followed March Madness closely. I also tend to take pride in my hoops knowledge.

But this year I struggled. I lost all of my confidence in understanding bracketology.

The reason for the problems is that I listened to too many of the so-called experts. All of their analyses messed with my head.

When I fill out brackets, I like my selections to flow from game to game. I don’t like to second-guess myself, because I believe in the philosophy they tell you when preparing for the ACT: “Go with your first instinct, don’t flip-flop.”

I guess I can’t blame my bracketaphobia on others too much. I was the one who decided to listen to sports talk radio on Selection Sunday.

I was driving across the plains of Western Nebraska after attending a wedding in Ohio during the weekend. I was tired of my CDs, so I decided to listen to the radio.

I heard everybody’s opinion on who was the favorite and who was going to get upset.

Of course, nobody guessed the same.

Then, on Tuesday and Wed-nesday, I watched too much SportsCenter. ESPN had at least four guys filling out their own brackets every show.

When it came to making my own predictions, everybody else’s ideas were making things fuzzy.

I would go to write a team in and I’d hear Digger Phelps, Dick Vitale and Andy Katz over and over in my head.

The voices almost made me tear up my bracket several times, but I managed to fill out three of them.

All three brackets have themes. There’s my “heart” bracket, in which I picked the teams I wanted to win. Yes, Kansas won that bracket.

Then there was the “upset city” bracket. I picked at least one No. 11 vs. No. 3 upset, two No. 12 vs. No. 5s, and a couple of No. 10 vs. No. 7 overthrows.

My final bracket was the “best guess” bracket. This one was the bracket that was for the group I had to pay the most money to join.

Despite the haunting voices I haven’t done too poorly so far, though there were two women in our office pool — who admittedly know next to nothing about basketball — with better brackets than me through the first eight games.

But things worked out by Friday. Those two have fallen off a bit, and I was 20 for 24 in my picks through the afternoon.

In my Yahoo bracket (best guess bracket), I was 19 for 24 and tied for second place.

In the ESPN Tournament Challenge Bracket (upset city bracket), I was 21 for 24, which put me in 358,379th place Friday afternoon. I don’t think I’m going to win that one.

I know, I know, the first round doesn’t hold much weight in the long run. The Sweet 16 and beyond is when accuracy counts.

That’s why sometime next week is the time to ask me “How’s your bracket?”

If I don’t respond, it’s because the voices in my head are telling me to remain quiet.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or

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