I’m always been a day late and a dollar short—or in this case, four years late and a billion dollars short. You probably heard that in 2014, Warren Buffet offered a billion dollar March Madness prize to anyone who could successfully pick all 64 team brackets in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. You can’t win if you don’t play, and I didn’t play…or win. Of course, sometimes you can’t win even if you do play, as everyone who played found out.
Estimates vary, but some mathematicians say your chance of picking all the tournament brackets correctly is one in 9.2 quintillion. That’s a nine with 18 zeroes. Put another way, Warren Buffet had nothing to worry about.
March Madness “grips the national sports psyche from the second week of March through the first week of April,” or so I read on a sports website. No offense sports fans, but many things grip my psyche during March, but basketball just isn’t one of them. I sure wouldn’t spend a lot of time guessing tournament brackets when I have a better chance of winning the lottery—or of being struck by lightning, which would really take the fun out of winning the lottery.
My chances of choosing all the brackets would probably be even worse since I don’t follow basketball. I’m not even sure what tournament fans mean by “bracket.” In my world, it’s a seldom-used punctuation mark or the doohickey that holds your shelf on the wall, either of which can drive me mad in the right circumstances.
Let me tell you what I do know, or rather what I picked up on the Internet: March Madness refers to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments which determine the national champions of college basketball. And I can see how that would be exciting if your psyche is gripped by that sort of thing.
But if I’m going to go mad in March, and there’s a better than one in 9.2 quintillion chance that I will, I can think of plenty of other reasons to do it.
How about getting pinched because you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, or dying your beer green or calling something corned beef when there’s no corn involved? That’s madness if you ask me.
What about Pi Day on March 14, so named because the ratio of a pie’s circumference to its diameter is 3.14 and Greek mathematicians couldn’t spell worth a dang.
The Ides of March, March 15, corresponds to the date on the Roman calendar on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. I think that was followed by a bit of madness, but I haven’t read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar since I was forced to in college and my memory of 44 BC is a little rusty, as anything from 44 BC would be by now.
There’s national If Pets Had Thumbs Day on March 3, Extraterrestrial Abductions Day on March 20 and National Goof-Off Day on March 22. If anything could grip a psyche, I think it would be a space alien or a poodle with thumbs.
Finally, we get to March 30 and “I Am in Control Day” which will be refreshing after a month of madness. We non-sports fans will have a slight relapse on April Fools’ Day, but then we’ll return to sanity. Meanwhile the psyches of basketball fans will still be gripped for a few more days.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books including, I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. )