The Ides of March have come and gone.
College basketball fans, and even casual sports fans, can now over-indulge themselves with seedings, regions, over-unders, and how to pick the perfect March Madness bracket.
With the NCAA men's college basketball tournament bracket finally announced, you must know—no matter how many tournament pick 'em pools you enter—you'll never pick the perfect bracket and will be lucky to win one.
You're the guy whose multiple brackets all bust after the first-round games are only half over, not the guy whose winning bracket turned out perfect.
Will this year's big dance be any different?
Forget that work productivity dramatically decreases Monday mornings after Selection Sunday, when workers gather around the water cooler and break room to talk bracketology. You won't be that guy who flaunts his Final Four teams as the be-all, end-all.
You will work harder than ever the week leading up to tournament tip-off, instead of wasting the day placing bets and filling out brackets like every other year.
You are tired of picking all the chalk teams, all the storied college programs, and all the Hall-of-Fame coaches to dance through all your brackets.
This year, you swear to refrain from all the bracket hoopla and avoid filling out more than one.
You won't gamble away your rent money on a team like Gonzaga again.
Instead, you settle for watching the National Invitation Tournament to get a head start on next year, and the women's tournament out of simple curiosity.
You call in sick for work for the first time this year, so you can enjoy the first March Madness in 34 years without the venerable Billy Packer.
See, this year's tournament will already be different. Your luck may finally be changing. You may have picked the perfect bracket.
You know the feeling you get when you fill out your first bracket: You honestly feel you have a shot at winning your illegal office gambling pool.
All of your picks seem dead on, not a bad team in the bunch. You have listened to all the analysts. You've watched enough games this season to feel confident with each one of your selections.
Picking the games is harder than it looks, but you're not changing a damn one of yours.
You may listen to some more commentary until you hear the awesome Dicky V offer up his selections. Then you're done.
You have your obligatory No. 5 vs. No. 12 upset (Arizona), you have at least one No. 1 seed gone by the Final Four (North Carolina), and your sleepers (Clemson/Michigan) all have good championship draws.
This same feeling returns come April when the Final Four hits the Ford Field court in Detroit.
You could have picked the right games. Your Final Four teams (Louisville, Pittsburgh, Washington, Clemson) could all still be alive.
It all seems so easy.
You know the feeling.
You pull out your crumpled newspaper bracket and your original picks are no longer visible.
Had your penciled-in selections smudged?
You grab the nearest pen, and write in those teams that you originally picked to win on that faithful Selection Sunday back in March.
But you can't remember them all.
Then you remember how you wanted this year to be different—you wanted the thrill of filling out a winning bracket.
So you go online to see if anyone picked a perfect bracket.
Someone did, but it wasn't you.
You write down the rest of the teams who you would have picked had you not wanted this year to be different.
You're still waiting for Dicky V to shut up.
See, picking a perfect bracket is easy when you forget to fill out even one bracket and wait until the Final Four to do so.
Then you pick those games incorrectly, and this year is no different from last year.
Only one of your Final Four picks was perfect.
The Washington Huskies.
* The tournament is set and the madness now descends upon us all.
Enjoy all the bracketology talk leading up to the games this weekend. Every year we're guaranteed memorable games, unforgettable buzzer-beaters, and incredible highlights...er, tie color combos from Digger Phelps.
The games might not last six overtimes, but they won't disappoint us. You can bet on it. It's one of the best weekends to be a sports fan—period.
By this time next week, the Sweet Sixteen will be set, with your imperfect bracket torn to bits.
If you somehow pick the perfect bracket, let's hope this article played a small part.
See you tomorrow with regional breakdowns and official selections.
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