March 1, 2023

Let’s settle the score

1.7 min read| Published On: March 1st, 2023|

By James Combs

Let’s settle the score

1.7 min read| Published On: March 1st, 2023|

Three pointers to bring sanity to your March Madness bracket. 

As you read this, we’re days away from the NCAA Tournament. That means you’ll soon fill out a bracket that can win you a few—or a few million—bucks.  

Be forewarned: there’s no exact science to filing out a March Madness bracket. Trust me, I speak from experience. I’ve spent unnecessary hours trying to pinpoint the Cinderella team. I’ve pointlessly identified teams that limped into the postseason and are vulnerable to an early-round upset. 

Take it from me, trying to pick a spoiler is a colossal waste of time. I still had red marks all over my bracket. This year, I’ll be more creative and advance teams based on three methods some may consider downright goofy.  

Cats have nine lives, so picking a team with a feline-related nickname may be wise. You can choose the Tigers, a nickname shared by Auburn, Clemson, Louisiana State, Memphis, and Missouri. Or you can choose the Wildcats of Northwestern, Kentucky, Arizona, and Villanova. Weather lovers might opt for the Miami Hurricanes and Iowa State Cyclones, while bird lovers can pick the Creighton Bluejays and Louisville Cardinals. Also, you have to advance one team with a nickname that you have no idea what it means: the Saint Louis Billikens, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, and my personal favorite, the University of California Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.

If you’re a fan of surfing and sunshine, UCLA, USC, Hawaii, and Miami are obvious picks. Maybe tall, majestic mountain peaks intrigue you. If so, consider advancing Colorado or Tennessee into the Final Four. For fans who love visiting a city filled with bourbon and blues, it would be criminal not to pick Memphis. And if you cannot stay away from slot machines, then you can take a gamble on UNLV.

By promoting products and setting different trends, celebrities have a tremendous influence on our society. They might as well influence our NCAA Tournament bracket, too. Celebrity sports fans run the gamut, from beautiful women like Kate Upton (Michigan) and Ashley Judd (Kentucky) to famous singers like Katy Perry (Ole Miss) and Garth Brooks (Oklahoma State) to comedians like Will Ferrell (Southern California) and Larry the Cable Guy (Nebraska). Find out if your favorite celebrity is a college basketball fan and advance that team to the Final Four.

I’ll let you know if this works. Of course, unless Lady Luck smiles down on me, I won’t be the newest member of a millionaire club. After all, my odds of filling out a perfect bracket are the same as figuring out what a Banana Slug is.

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About the Author: James Combs

James Combs was a pillar of Akers Media Group since its inception in 2008. Over the years, he had the honor of interviewing Lake & Sumter County's most fascinating personalities, from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans, bringing their incredible stories to life. Throughout his career, James earned over 50 awards for writing excellence, a testament to his talent and dedication. In 2021, he was inducted into the Akers Media Group Hall of Fame. Sadly, James passed away in 2023 after a courageous battle with cancer. His legacy of storytelling and excellence continues to inspire us all.

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