Classical Bracket Buddies 2016: Once More Into Unreason

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A historical note: The Classical Bracket Buddies competition predates the Classical by several decades. Going back to the middle years of Jimmy Carter's administration, a group of friends got to together to tender incorrect guesses on the NCAA Tournament and create elaborate punny names for their heroically erroneous brackets. This group was driven underground during the second Reagan administration, but continued to practice its folkways and traditions underground—picking seriously flawed Big Ten teams to win it all and overlooking the weaknesses of overhyped Big East teams from their redoubts in basements and anonymous bar booths. This was before the internet, and the rise of the Ohio Valley Conference. But these are our predecesors and this year, again, we honor them through Classical Bracket Buddies.

This is, somehow, the fifth go-round for Classical Bracket Buddies, and I am happy to report that for the most part the brackets being picked, by me and others, are really quite bad. The thrill of the tournament, for those who feel any thrill at the tournament, is the contained chaos of it, which is contained only as well as the college-age kids involved can contain it—which is to say for like 15 minutes or so. The not-knowing is the thing, and while it's fun to guess and speculate and retroactively justify all the time spent watching sloppy and meaningless basketball games over the previous few months, the fun of it is the gradual awakening to our powerlessness and idiocy in the face of chance and subjectivity and the limits of what we know. It's a valuable life lesson, and an equally valuable excuse for day-drinking.

So: let us once more be wrong together. The bracket is set up through Yahoo, and is here. The password is "theclassical" without the quotes. The prize, for a record fifth year, is a photo of me in a Corliss Williamson jersey and probably some other thing TBD. To date, no one has claimed the first prize, which is hurtful but which is I guess also part of the tradition. Which is what all this is about, really: a tradition observed together, and a habitual tendency to overrate Baylor's chances at the Elite Eight. It's good. Let's get humble.

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