Last week I wrote about a March Madness auction league that I took part in where things didn’t go as planned and I ended up buying two 15 seeds for $4 each. I figured that I just flushed $8 down the toilet because heading into this years tournament only four 15 seeds had ever defeated a two seed. I wasn’t as upset about the money as I was that this was all that I had to show for sitting through a three hour auction. There’s nothing enjoyable about watching a team lose by 25 and I can’t say that I was overly optimistic about how this was going to work out. However, as Herm Edwards so eloquently stated, “You play to win the game” and winning is exactly what Norfolk State had in mind.
I typically am not a “go with the chalk” type of person or gambler. This year the Kentucky Wildcats were the overwhelming favorite and was sure to be picked in about 75% of brackets to win it all. Because of this there leaves very little room for error if you are going to be one of the droves of people that select them. I decided that this year Missouri was going to be the one to take me to the promise land, not Kentucky. I was impressed by what they did in the regular season as well as Big 12 tournament. They had some impressive wins and even though they play four guards they still managed to handle teams with bigger players. I was going to have them beat Michigan State and then follow that up with a win over Kentucky to send them to the National Championship game. I had North Carolina winning it all but picking them over Kentucky was what was going to make me so wise and roll in the cash.
Fast forward to Friday night and I’m having a few Guinness’ at my favorite watering hole when it’s time for the Missouri vs Norfolk State game. Since there is a huge sporgy (definition: sports orgy) taking place with games on everywhere this one doesn’t register much other than me saying to a friend “I’m one of the few people in America that have a vested interest in Norfolk State winning this game”. Despite having a $4 ticket on them I know that I’m rooting for Missouri, they are my horse.
When watching a 15 vs 2 matchup you are always waiting for the 2 seed to turn it on and flex their big conference muscles. Sometimes this happens instantly and is a blowout within 5 minutes, other times it takes a bit longer. At halftime this game is tied at 38 and I figure that Missouri came out a bit slow and overlooked their opponent. Their coach will say “what the hell is going on…you are better than this…finish them”, go all Cobra Kai on their asses, and then the team responds. This is what you expect out of a two seed. This is definitely not what happened. Norfolk State continued to maintain the lead and the thought of them actually winning started to become more and more of a possibility. At the 10 minute mark left in the game I was still rooting for Missouri. If they lose I can pretty much throw away both of my brackets. I was in two pools, one for $20 and another for $10 but there was more than money on the line. There’s pride. I don’t want to lose to any of my friends at this none the less finish near the bottom. If Norfolk State were to win I’d win $34 and after removing the $4 buy fee would net me $30, which is exactly the amount of the two pools I entered. Now this is a conundrum.
The game gets to the 7 minute mark and I finally say screw it, I’m rooting for Norfolk State. In 98.4% of cases I’ll root for a huge underdog to beat a top seed pretty much the second the game starts. The 1.6% occurs when it happens to your home team or a team that if they lost would royally screw you in some way. I figure that having the story of buying a 15 seed for $4 and having them win is worth blowing up my brackets for an entire year and the potential ridicule that I’ll get from my friends. Sure it took 75% of the game to be over before I made the switch but 10 years from now that part of the story won’t be told. All that I’ll remember is that I won money because I bet on 15 seed Norfolk State to beat 2 seed Missouri straight up!
As always there is a moral to this story. That moral is that gambling is awesome and there are few if any things in life as awesome as March Madness. I look forward to buying a 15 seed next year and hopefully seeing history be made again.