Winning the billion

It’s been an eventful month. Spring break, as previously discussed, was crazy, but something new and dangerous lurked onto my horizon and caused me enough stress to last me a lifetime. March Madness.

I am not a basketball player, nor will I ever be, due to my serious lack of athleticism despite being tall, but I have followed the sport for a good few years now. My knowledge is not extensive, but I know what a lay-up is, I know who Kobe Bryant is, I watched “Space Jam” when I was little and I know that if you make a really good shot from a long way back you hold up three fingers in some sort of celebratory way because you’re a bad ass. I’m practically an expert.

But despite my wealth of knowledge, I’ve always been a little bit clueless about NCAA college basketball. As I’ve touched on in previous columns, college sports just aren’t a big thing in the U.K. So seeing basketball televised nationwide on channels such as TBS and CBS is absolutely amazing for me. These guys are my age and being shown playing competitive sport to an audience of millions. It’s crazy.

So when I heard about March Madness, I decided I would invest in it whole-heartedly. I was preparing myself for a month of cheering on the underdog until I was introduced to something that changed everything: The March Madness $1 billion Perfect Bracket Contest. All I heard was pick some teams, win a billion dollars. I was, naturally very excited. Think of what you could do with $1 billion!!! Buy more than 222 million Cookie Dough Sonic Blasts? Check! Pay for at least one semester here at Trinity? Check! Build a massive sign next to the Soccer Field which reads “Southwestern Sucks”? Check! The possibilities would be endless.

60-something games, pick the winners? Easy! Nobody told me until well after I’d picked my teams that a perfect bracket has NEVER been picked before. Never. Like, ever. “Surely it can’t be that hard?” I thought to myself. My bracket was designed with common sense in mind: Only pick teams with cool names, bright colors or interesting mascots. They’re bound to be good if they play in orange jerseys”¦ Syracuse for National Champions then. Duke?! That’s a rubbish name. You’re out. St. Joe’s!? The mascot is a massive bird?! Elite Eight for you St. Joe’s; you go St. Joe’s. My bracket was untouchable, fantastic and immaculate in every possible way. This was the best thing ever.

Until the end of the first game. Losing MY $1 billion thanks to Dayton University, who I’ve never even heard of, was not part of the plan! Ohio State, you’re tacky and I hate you. But I resolved myself to win our Soccer Team bracket contest and show the Americans how it’s done. With just the final four left to play I’m currently in 8th place out of 10 teams with no possible points left. Shit. It has, however, been thoroughly enjoyable to see my friends suffer the same agony as one by one their brackets fell apart. Zac Treu’s reaction to Duke’s defeat to Mercer in the first round is possibly one of the funniest and impressive things I’ve ever seen, as he managed to form meaningful sentences using only expletives for a full ten minutes following the buzzer.

Despite my personal feelings towards some of the teams (Cincy & both Oklahoma teams, I’m looking at you, you bunch of amateurs), I do think it’s absolutely brilliant that these young men (and women, in the women’s tournament) get such an amazing chance to play out their dreams in front of literally millions of people. What an advert for college sports this month is. The professionalism with which it was covered online and on television shows just how seriously it’s taken. Truly a great credit to this country.

So my closing score will be 37 correct results out of a possible 63. I’m proud of my over 50 percent success rate considering the criteria by which I picked my teams”¦ but secretly I’m still heartbroken that $1 billion wasn’t mine. I’ll win it next year. Maybe.

Callum Squires is a first year german major.