Billion dollar bracket busted

Mar. 23, 2014 @ 05:52 PM

There’s a very good chance now that I’m not going to win Warren Buffett’s $1 billion.

And I had such good plans for it — Twizzlers for everybody, lamb chops when they’re not buy-one, get-one free, change my oil every two months, not every three. Maybe buy hardbacks instead of paperbacks. Replace torn underwear, even if historically lucky, with new. Get the full bottle of wine, not the half, when we go out to dinner.

I understood that to win the billion the odds weren’t great — something like one in a billion, which is a number with so many zeroes the zero store ran out of them and had to order re-stock from Amazon — but I thought I had a chance.

Alas, it only took one weekend, and I’ve done it already: screwed up my brackets. They seem to be too high on the left and the screws are already coming loose.

I’ve also apparently screwed up my picks. So not only will I not win a billion dollars from Buffett, who was offering that for anyone who turned in a perfect bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but it appears very likely that I will owe my wife five bucks because her picks, based on throwing darts while her eyes were closed and she was sleeping, have done far better than mine.   

This is particularly galling because I spent so much time picking out my picks, carefully choosing my teams based on a carefully developed selection system.

I first checked each team’s won-loss record, mainly to determine if any team had ever lost to a school where the mascot had been arrested for impersonating a billiken.

Then I looked at all the schools playing in the tournament and tried to remember if I had ever applied for admission to any of them and if I had been turned down because the only extra-curricular item on my high school resume was that I was a member of the junior varsity Ping-Pong club.

From there, I added the school’s adjusted tempo-free offensive field goal percentage during away games played in the month of November to the average shoe size of the starting five. I divided that by the grade point average of the school’s incoming student body, not, of course, including any courses in the sociology department unless they were three-pointers.

I measured what each team thought about Crimea and how many of the starters knew the difference between Rick Pitino and Vladimir Putin. Then I subtracted the number of times the sports team had been called a program rather than a sports team and multiplied the total by 3.6, a number I had chosen at random because I like the number 3.6 and 3.5 was no longer available.

With all this knowledge in hand, I filled out my brackets and let my bank know that the billion was coming. But just in case, I held on to the old underwear.    

Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.