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COUNTERPOINT: Brackets ruin enjoyment of upsets

PointCounterpoint Read softball beat writer Ryan Clarke's point about why you should fill out a bracket.

For the past two years, I haven’t filled out a bracket. I explained my rationale in a 2013 Devil Dish — it would ruin the upsets that make the tournament so great.

2015 will be my third consecutive year abstaining from a pool, and I don’t regret it.

For many, the incentive to fill out a bracket is bragging rights among friends and to possibly win money. Brackets get casual and non-sports fans interested in college basketball.

I just want to see upsets.

JustinJanssen3-17Being the resident sports expert in my old friend group, I filled out a bracket for a buddy in 2010 by picking the hated Duke Blue Devils to go all the way.

After running a scenario analysis, I realized going into the final weekend that if Duke won it all, my friend would earn a small monetary prize in our high school pool.

The prize wasn’t even for me, and I found myself rooting against Butler — an all-time Cinderella in the championship game. Duke ended up winning after Gordon Hayward's buzzer-beater half-court heave barely missed. That wasn't the last straw for me though; it was when when two No. 2 seeds lost in their first game.

Even small monetary or friendly wagers change rooting interests of games. Instead of rooting for great stories and underdogs, motivations turn selfish and egotistical.

To truly enjoy the tournament, you can’t fill out a bracket. Your rooting interests become your picks. Unless you like seeing Duke and Kentucky every year, you’ll end up cheering for the most despised teams.

One loophole would be to just pick the underdogs. But that's a recipe for a busted bracket and nothing left to root for.

Most brackets make it through the first weekend. The second is when the pretenders and contenders separate themselves in the office pool.

After a bracket gets busted, then the person filling out the bracket might root for the underdogs.

But really the first weekend is the best time to root for the underdogs. At that point, potential Cinderellas get fitted for the glass slipper. If a double-digit seed makes it into the second weekend, it will have already become a darling.

In two years of not filling out filling out bracket, I was not worried about how a historic upset ruined my bracket.

In 2013, remember when 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast advanced into the Sweet 16?

In 2014, remember when 11-seed Dayton qualified for the Elite Eight? Or when Duke lost to 14-seed Mercer?

Or the fact that Harvard has won an NCAA tournament game in each of the past two years, despite an average seed of 13?

So I challenge you: Don't make a bracket this year.

You'll enjoy it.


Reach the sports editor at or follow @jjanssen11 on Twitter.

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