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Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Madness

Starting today, our nation will be put on hold. Today, the madness begins. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is by far the most exciting sports event throughout the year. This event is unlike any other because of its ability to capture the attention of such a wide variety of Americans. Because of this, it allows the below average fan that typically may not engage in sports banter with the more avid follower, to participate in the fun as well.

But there are affects of the tournament that are significantly felt throughout society that are often overlooked and ultimately forgiven; this being the loss of productivity and revenue in the workplace.

John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and business coaching consultancy at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, has led several outreach assessments of these affects. Challenger reports that throughout the four weeks of the tournament, over $4 billion will be lost in productivity and revenue. This is a result of skipping work or taking extended breaks to follow the several games in progress throughout the day. Our world of technology feeds into the problem as well. We have the convenience of not even having to leave our workspace with the ability to track all of the games with a touch of a button, further facilitating the madness into the workplace.

So how do we fix this problem? Is it a problem? Employers can prohibit any site to be visited that has no such relevance to their work or have sites that would enable this behavior, blocked and unable to access. But employees may not react well to this course of action, taking the day off figuratively or literally. Unfortunately for companies throughout our nation, they will have to manage their assets as well as possible during this time, continuing to work to the best of their ability while coping with this national outbreak of basketball madness.

As the 2010 tournament brackets were unveiled, I honestly was distant and frustrated with basketball as a whole. I was not one of the millions of fans waiting in anticipation as the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee announced this year’s 65 team field. My alma mater, the Charlotte 49ers, had another disappointing season, failing once again to reach the post-season (including the NIT). But as today’s opening round games approached and all of my friends were fanatically filling in their brackets, I couldn’t be more excited. Well, I suppose I’d be a little more excited if my 49ers could be playing…

Debates regarding the tournament will rage on throughout the next couple weeks, ranging from the possible 12 seed over the 5 seed, to who would become this year’s Cinderella team. Many people fill in several brackets with various outcomes throughout the tournament. I personally fill in one bracket; that’s all I need. It will drive you crazy the more you try to break down and analyze every match-up and potential outcome for every minute detail.

Even President Barack Obama completes a bracket every year. If the leader of the free world, who is working tirelessly to fix our economy and implement universal health care, can enjoy the tournament as well, I guess it isn’t too bad. Sorry John Challenger, you’re on your own.

President Obama is one for one with picking the national champion, as he selected the North Carolina Tar Heels last year. This year, he’s picked the Kansas Jayhawks to become champions of college basketball. Not a bad pick considering they are the number one overall seed and prohibitive favorite, as was North Carolina.

Leading up to the tournament, I also try to avoid the sports networks on television or on the radio. During this time of the year, the networks are all on an unhealthy dosage of March Madness adderall, having only one focus while disregarding all other sports. They constantly air their “experts.” These experts share their “insight” throughout the upcoming weeks, preaching to sports nation on who to pick and why. To be completely honest, you probably know better than anyone, especially than the “experts.” If you’ve followed college basketball throughout the season, go with your gut and stick with it!

Now from those experts to me, it looks pretty simple. This year’s tournament will be dominated by the Big East. Without a doubt, the Big East is the most competitive and overall best basketball played in the country. With eight representatives in the field, the national champion will be from this conference. There will not be many upsets, but if there is one watch out for, go with the 12 seed Utah State over the 5 seed Texas A&M. Don’t expect a Cindarella team causing havoc for anyone’s bracket(s), as this year will be dominated by the big boys.

My Final Four includes Georgetown vs. Syracuse and Kentucky vs. Duke.

Georgetown is loaded with talent, being led by the most skilled big man in college basketball, Greg Monroe. The Cuse is getting discarded by the masses because of their early exit in the conference tournament. Coach Jim Boeheim will not let that happen again. It also helps to have the lethal three-point shooting of Andy Rautins and extremely skilled swing man Wes Johnson. The Kentucky Wildcats are dangerous. Loaded with all the talent in the world, Kentucky should advance to the Final Four with ease. Eventually, a lack of experience will catch up to them, as the Wildcats won’t be doing ‘The John Wall Dance’ for long. Coach K and his overachieving Blue Devils will have an answer for Kentucky, advancing to the final game.

After a low scoring championship game, the Syracuse Orangemen will defeat the Duke Blue Devils to become national champions.

I am truly looking forward to this year’s tournament. It is one of the most competitive fields in recent memory, which will provide us with an amazing four weeks of drama and excitement!


  1. ROFL, Georgetown and Big East.

  2. I would use this moment to point out that the Big 12 seems much more dominant than the Big East so far in the tournament, but I don't want to jinx Kansas, so I'll refrain:-)