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John Lamb, Published March 19 2014

Lamb: Stop the Madness: March Meh-laise

March Madness is gripping the country, but all I’m feeling is a maddening case of Mid-Spring Meh-laise.

It’s not the weather that’s got me down. I just feel out of the loop not getting swept up in college hoops.

As a baseball fan, I would rather see the green grass of spring training, than men in shorts and tank-tops running inside.

It’s hard to overstate how huge the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship is.

I’ve seen stories that one in 10 Americans fills out a bracket. So it turns out 10 percent of Americans aren’t even creative enough to scrawl anything more than their name on a Valentine’s Day card, yet they will weigh the pros and cons of two schools they probably couldn’t place on a map. Do you know where Mercer University is? Here’s a hint, it’s not any of the Mercers in North Dakota, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee or Wisconsin.

Go Bears!

The lack of productivity by bracketeers more consumed with watching games than doing their job is estimated to be $1.2 billion. That’s a lot of green going down the drain, but not as much as the estimated $2.5 billion bet on the games.

In the past few years there have even been reports of more men getting vasectomies during the tournament to give them a doctor’s note to sit at home and watch TV. At least this purported “Vas Madness” is good for the doctors performing the snip and the frozen pea industry.

(For the record, Sanford Health says the number of procedures is steady throughout the year.)

This year there’s more incentive to care, or at least make some kind of effort to fill out a bracket.

Quicken Loans and billionaire Warren Buffet are partnering to give away $1 billion to anyone who can predict the victor in all 63 games. So now people won’t only spend game time scoreboard watching, they’ll spend the rest of their free time dreaming what they’d do with $1 billion.

And dreaming will be as close as anyone will get to it. An article in USA Today quoted a DePaul math professor as crunching the odds to 1 in 128 billion of filling out a perfect bracket. But he’s probably just steamed because the Blue Devils haven’t gone to the tournament in a decade.

But even odds as slim as 1 in 128 billion still leave me a chance.

I won’t bore you with my methodology (go with mascots!), but I have the Manhattan Jaspers (who would’ve guessed Manhattan College was in the Bronx?) beating the University of Albany Great Danes.

The Jaspers, by the way, are named after Brother Jasper, who taught at the Catholic school. He is remembered best for introducing baseball to the college and particularly for developing the seventh-inning stretch.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533