Monday, March 31, 2014


Ben Zimmer's informative Visual Thesaurus post on the NCAA men's basketball tournament and its "brackets" and other lingo reminded me of the much less useful post of peeves I've had in mind for some time. 

If you're inferring that the subject makes me a bit crotchety because I simply don't like basketball, well, you may have a point. But I do pay attention to my alma mater's exploits in the tournament. The photo above is from the Arizona Daily Star -- that would be the riot that followed my Wildcats' one-point overtime defeat the other day. (And I'm not at all bitter that, after years of loyally picking Arizona to win, I forgot to enter a pool in 1997, the year the Cats actually did win.)

Anyway, here are some things that irk me about what we talk about when we talk about March Madness:

1. "Brackets" are not unique to this event. It's a draw sheet. Every single-elimination tournament has one.

2. The infantile alliteration. March Madness. Final Four. Elite Eight. Sweet Sixteen. Thirsty Thirty-Two? Sardonic Sixty-Four? Oh, and let's not forget Selection Sunday. Selection Sunday? (I prefer Secretarial Saturday Sponsored by Staples, but then again I'm a sucker for office supplies.)

3. Final Four! Final Four! Translation: "It's the semifinals! The SEMIS, I tell you!"

4. The "regions" are not regions, unless some sort of seismic activity shifted Albany to the South since I last looked. 

5. The not-regions "regions" confuse things. Tell me what round it is, not what round of a meaningless sub-round. If the regions have nothing to do with regions, and each so-called region produces not an actual winner but rather a semifinalist, how much more confusing and/or meaningless can you get than "regional quarterfinals"?

6. A caveat: While the "regions" present me with a math problem in lieu of actual informatiion, at least the infantile alliteration tells me where things stand.

UPDATE (can't believe I forgot this)

7. You get only one No. 1 seed, unless the "regionals" are separate tournaments. The regionals are neither regionals nor separate tournaments (see No. 4). Therefore, the best No. 1 seed is No. 1, the second-best is No. 2, and so on.