Bracketmania strikes again!

Published 1:59 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chances are, if you’re like many of the millions of Americans, you’ve probably already filled out your bracket for the NCAA tournament. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, college basketball features a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams at the end of the year, with only one team standing at the end as the national champion. This tournament is often called “March Madness” because it takes place in March — although the championship game this year is April 2. Bummer.

The filling out of an NCAA tournament bracket is an annual ritual that has participants of all stripes. Some of us are devoted to the television set 24/7, watching as much college basketball as we can, and making meticulous choices about the game results based on “matchups” and “intangibles.” Others pick teams because they like their mascots or colors.

Technology has made March Madness even more fun, and with that growth of technology has come a decrease in worker productivity. Studies have shown that American businesspeople become far less productive in the first week of the NCAA tournament, because they’re likely browsing sports websites trying to determine which teams they’re going to pick to win games in the bracket.

CBS has even invented something called “March Madness on Demand,” where a person can watch any game in the tournament on their computer — even if there’re four games going on at the same time in four different locations. My favorite aspect of this invention is something called “the boss button,” where you can quickly hit a keystroke to minimize the video screen and instead make a fake spreadsheet pop up on the monitor if the boss is walking by. “No, really ma’am, I was working in Excel! That scream you heard was because our expenditures were so low this quarter!”

(Just FYI, Jeff, I’m not going to use this program, don’t worry.)

Every so often, a major underdog will knock off a heavily-favored team, and this is why the tournament is also sometimes called “The Big Dance.” There will be no shortage of Cinderella-based references that will be heard throughout the days, from the mouths of uncreative announcers and pundits — “The slipper fits!” “The clock struck midnight on this Cinderella!” “That player looks like an ugly stepsister!” (Okay, hopefully we won’t hear that last one).

I don’t know about you, but I’ll likely be glued to my TV set this entire weekend, biting my nails as I nervously hope for my No. 14 Belmont-over-No. 3 Georgetown upset to come to fruition.

And if none of my picks are right and my entire Final Four goes out in the second or third round? I’ll probably just participate in another one of those great March Madness traditions.

I’ll lie and say I picked them right anyway.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.