Odd for 2017 MarchMadness

“You’re gonna make the best call
you can, and you know they’re
gonna second-guess you.
So what? We’re just gonna have
to take our beatings as we go…”

 Kenny O’Donnell

There’s an excitement that begins to build around this time every year that sucks people in from all walks of life. The college basketball season has played out through the stillness of the winter months and went unnoticed for the most part as the crescendo of football season raced to a climax.

But with March comes a tournament. And, with a tournament comes excitement.

People who haven’t watched a single game since the season began are drawn to the chase. It is known as March Madness and it always delivers. Squads from smaller schools rise up to knock off their favored foe. Seasons end on shots made or missed as the final buzzer sounds. It’s a stage bathed in the brightest of lights.

On Sunday the competing teams will be announced and the analysis will began. Pay no attention to the talking heads. Sure, they have credentials that trumpet insight and more differing opinions than congress on a caffeine overdose, but history has proven that this tournament cares little for the experts.

Who’s gonna win?

Your guess is as good as mine, even if you don’t know a single thing about the teams. That’s why I picked my winners and losers before the match ups were even announced. If it’s a shot in the dark, and each year it seems that it is, then why sweat small details like knowing what team is playing who?

Some folks worry over the details though. They’ll fret over their pick sheet to the extent of creating alternate pick sheets to cover the games where they just couldn’t choose between two teams.

If one sheet of speculation is good, then ten must be ten times as good. Take two shots of CYA and call me in the morning. All your sheets are going to look like ink blots by the time we get to round three.

This is where it gets fun. About 15 years ago a North Florida radio station was offering a $50,000 Grand Prize in their contest if anyone picked all the games correctly (that seems like a paltry sum at this point). The offer got my imaginative wheels spinning however, and I called on an egg-head math major friend of mine to help sort out a few things when it came to this whole Pick-A-Winner Tournament thing.

I asked him to sort out one simple question:

How many pick sheets would you need
to cover every single possibility?

The answer was a measly 36,028,797,018,964,000 different pick sheets. That’s the rarely encountered Comma Quintet folks.

Here’s the phonetic version:

36 quadrillion,

28 trillion,

797 billion,

18 million,

964 thousand different entries.

This, according to Pythagoras, was if we assumed that all four #1 Seeds and all four #2 Seeds won their first round games. So in our cover every possibility quest, we’re not making allowance for the possibility of any 15th or 16th seed to pull off the proverbial Goliath beats David upset.

I knew right away that filling out all those sheets would take some time and might even require the use of a few vacations days from work, but how much time? Curiosity was beating me black and blue, so I did some more work. I had to break this ridiculous number down into something that made sense.

My first step was to find a calculator with room for 17 digits (those aren’t cheap BTW, but they’re now available online). My next step involved dividing the number in half repeatedly until I got to a smaller number (no kidding).

Here’s what I found:

  • I would need 72(Trillion),057,594,037,928 reams of paper
  • I could get by on 36(Trillion),028,797,018,964 reams if I printed on both sides
  • If each laser cartridge yielded 5,000 printed sheets, I would need 14(Billion),411,518,807.5 laser cartridges on hand.
  • If my laser printer could print 1 set of brackets per second non-stop:
  • It would print 3,600 sets of brackets per hour and 86,400 sets of brackets per day.
  • In 7 days, it would have printed 604,800 sets of brackets.
  • After 30 days I would have 2,592,000 sets of brackets.
  • After a year I’d be up to 31(Million),536,000 brackets.

After 31,709 years, 9 months, & 2 weeks I would finally reach the 1 Trillion mark, leaving me just 36 quadrillion, 27 trillion, 797 billion, 18 million, 964 thousand shy of the goal and 31,709 years, 9 months, 1 week and 5 days behind schedule. (All pick sheets must be completed by the time the first tournament game starts on Thursday – High Noon).

Just like this tournament of madness, life has a lot of variables. You can’t cover them all; no matter how hard you try.

Just like picking tournament winners, you’re going to get some things right and get some things wrong. You’re going to make mistakes and sometimes you’re going to feel foolish after the fact. It’s a part of life.

You’re not perfect, nor were you designed to be. You were designed to be resilient! And, you were built with the capacity to learn forever.

You can’t live life looking over your shoulder at the last game you lost on a shot at the buzzer. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. And, quit throwing punches at your own gut.

Tighten the shoelaces my friend and march on through the madness.

“And, bad mistakes. . . I’ve made a few.
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face,
but I’ve come through!”

Just in case you’re super curious, the lead quote is lifted from the movie Thirteen Days. It’s one of my favorite movies, staring Kevin Costner as Kenny O’Donnell, but I’m certain the quote was just artistic license drama through the creative minds of one of the script writers.

CLICK HERE for info on my annual bracket contest and see how you do against my most recent Blind Bracket picks.

Comments are closed.