Tournament brackets: made for “madness” and fun

Published 5:24 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

It’s about time for March Madness to start gearing up. Whether you’re a diehard, hardcore sports fan or just a person who doesn’t have anything better to watch on TV, plenty of people are going to tune in to watch the annual NCAA college basketball tournament.

Basketball is my favorite sport, even if I didn’t have a chance to watch much of it this season. But I’m definitely going to tune in to see all the triumphs of hardworking teams, the upsets from the underdogs, and whatever strange mascots end up on the screen. I’ll be cheering on NC State’s women’s team to win their championship, and I’ll… hope the men’s team has much better luck next year. (We’re not going to talk about this season.)

But perhaps one of the best things about March Madness is that almost everyone loves to gamble on a tournament bracket. Probably because it’s so easy and so unpredictable. You get a blank page of 64 team names (68 if you’re quick enough to fill it out before the first four play-in games) and then get to have fun filling them out.

Everybody has a different strategy for filling out their brackets. Avid basketball fans usually rely on their knowledge of the standings during the season, and know whether a team’s on a losing streak but poised for a comeback or just running out of gas at the end of a long few months. They probably keep up with player injury reports and fancy stats like “offensive efficiency” and stuff like that.

But some people just pick them randomly based on names they like, cool facts, the aforementioned strange mascots, or if they like (or hate) the coach.

Have a distant cousin who lives in Wisconsin? Pick their basketball team to win (or lose, if you don’t like said cousin.) Like making the joke about Wichita State wins being a “shocker” because that’s their team nickname? Pick them to miraculously upset every single team!

(Disclaimer: don’t make the Wichita State Shockers joke if you’re betting real money on your tournament bracket this year. Odds of them actually competing in the 2022 tournament are not looking great. I don’t want to be held liable for silliness!)

And I’ve just learned this week that Bryant University, a school in Rhode Island, has already punched their ticket for the “Big Dance.” Despite that university having no connection to my editor, Cal Bryant, maybe I’ll pick that team to win at least one fun upset game!

Of course, some of us get so into the idea of filling out a college basketball tournament bracket that we start making a whole host of different tournament brackets for all kinds of ridiculous things. Make up a bracket to determine the best fast food chicken tenders or figure out which superhero movie is the best one of all, for example.

In the spirit of such madness, I started thinking about putting together a “holiday” bracket, pitting celebration against celebration. Which holiday is the best of all?

We’ll put the heavy hitters as the number one seeds: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Independence Day.

The lowest seeds, potential upsetting underdogs, will be Flag Day, Daylight Savings Time, April Fool’s Day, and President’s Day.

In the middle, we’ve got a variety of holidays including New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, and plenty more.

Now, in order to advance in the holiday tournament, I’m thinking that we’ll probably have to consider a number of factors, like “how fun is it to celebrate this day?” and “do I get this day off of work?” and “do I need to look at my calendar to even know this holiday exists?”

Obviously, Daylight Savings Time is losing out in the first round right away because nobody likes losing an hour of sleep in the spring or losing sunlight earlier in the fall. It always seems to take days to recover from the time change, and you don’t even get the benefit of alcohol to blame the headache on.

St. Patrick’s Day is also going to be exiting the tournament early too. It’s a holiday with a dress code and… that’s about it. And if you don’t follow the dress code, you get pinched! Any holiday that invites pain is not fun. Not fun at all.

I’m thinking that April Fool’s Day doesn’t make it far in this tournament either, especially when pitted up against something like Thanksgiving Day. A holiday of really lame practical jokes versus one where you typically get to eat a fantastic home-cooked meal? That’s a no-brainer.

Despite Christmas being basically the biggest holiday of the year, I’m thinking they’re the top seed which heads home earlier than expected. Sure, that holiday brings us gifts and food and family time. But also, a ton of extra stress! (At least for me because I’m terrible at picking out gifts for people.) Christmas gets knocked out of the tournament to some semi-obscure holiday like Cinco de Mayo, which isn’t even technically an American holiday, but it does give many people an excuse to eat Mexican food and drink a lot.

In the end, I’ll put Halloween as the champion to come out on top. Despite not giving me a day off work, they’ll squeak out a win through the fun of costumes and spooky stuff and an abundance of candy.

Of course, these are all just my personal holiday tournament picks. What kind of “madness” are you putting on your own bracket?

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.