CINCINNATI -- It’s that special time of year when you’ve studied the matchups, mustered up your $5 and are ready to ride your Final Four picks to office bracket pool glory. Or you’re someone who will be annoyed hearing about it when you just want to heat up your Hot Pocket in the break room.
Regardless, the madness of NCAA Tournament brackets is upon us.
Whether you’re a bracket lover or hater, you surely fall into a category in your workplace. Here are nine types of co-workers you’ll find during March Madness prognostication time. Are you one of them?
1. The Organizer
This person is a noble soul for bringing together the office by heading up the pool. They have the unenviable task of gathering enough participants to make it worth it, and the even more unenviable task of collecting the money in a short amount of time. Inevitably, The Organizer ends up fronting some co-worker's entry fee or agrees to a “gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” arrangement that backfires on him. When the moochers only get 13 of the first 32 games right, The Organizer all but has to call in mob goons to collect what’s owed.
The Organizer also has the burden of the assumption that he is good at picking teams. After all, he is the one so interested in doing this that he coordinated the whole thing. He should be an expert, right? So when things don’t got well, it leaves him with egg on his face.
The only solace is that at least he has Yahoo! and other sites to do the work, leaving behind the years of grading papers and being accused of rigging it for himself. No good deed goes unpunished when you’re The Organizer.
2. The Sudden Expert
This person didn’t actually watch much college basketball all season, but once the field was announced, he was talking like he is Jay Bilas’ and Dick Vitale’s love child. He drops knowledge on how you’d better watch out for Iona and he could see Florida Gulf Coast doing some damage. Sure, he couldn’t tell you where Iona is or a single player on Florida Gulf Coast’s roster, but that matters not to him.
He heard Clark Kellogg say Nevada has two good big men and he caught half of a Baylor game one night flipping channels when “Designated Survivor” was a rerun.
You can count on this too: Sudden Expert will tell everyone that a 12 seed always beats a 5 seed. Why will he say that? Because every talking head on TV says it a million times and it's in the "Sudden Experts For Dummies" handbook. He will act like it's insider information.
The truth is, he doesn’t know jack squat, but he really likes hearing himself talk about it and the thought that someone else might think he is a college hoops savant. Oh well, that really makes him no different than Charles Barkley.
3. The Real Expert
The Real Expert is what the Sudden Expert claims to be, but she won’t pound her chest and make a bunch of noise like her wannabe fellow bracketeer. That’s because she has done her homework by watching games, reading about teams and following those in the know on social media.
So why would she want to share what she knows with everyone she is trying to beat? In fact, she knows WHICH 12 seed will beat a 5 seed, but her lips are sealed.
The Real Expert likes to have the advantage and can border on gambling derelict with her obsessive need for information that will give her the edge. That’s why it’s incredibly painful when this next person is the one who aces her out for all the gold.
4. Captain Clueless
Captain Clueless is just in it for the camaraderie and fun with their co-workers. She doesn’t know a Tar Heel from a Blue Devil and she does not care. She will pick teams because she likes the sound of the name or colors or because she had a cousin who went to that school. There is little method to the madness and she is blissfully OK with that.
What’s most galling to her opponents is she oftentimes does well or wins, thereby crushing the notion that it’s any sort of game of skill. When you ask Babs from accounts receivable who she had for the Final Four, she’ll reply with something along the lines of, “North something or another, Duke, I think, one of the Florida schools and Gorgonzola.” She meant Gonzaga and she somehow whooped you through dumb luck.
You want to hate Captain Clueless, but unless you’re The Real Expert, you kind of know you’re not really much different than her. You appreciate her lucky good fortune.
5. The Bet Hedger
Oh Bet Hedger, you just can’t help yourself, can you? This is the person who can’t stop at one sheet. No, no, he needs to fill out as many as he is allowed to ensure he not only has the best chance at winning, but also has the best chance at picking the most improbable upsets.
This is where there is contempt for The Bet Hedger. He will barrage you with the fact that he successfully picked No. 15 North Dakota to beat No. 2 Arizona. What he won’t tell you is that happened on only one of the 10 brackets he entered. So he got it right every time -- 10 percent of the time.
Pipe down, Bet Hedger, we see what you’re doing and we’re not impressed. You’re just a sad little person. Be more like Babs in accounts receivable, you knucklehead.
6. One-Sheet McGee
Yep, this is the anti-Bet Hedger. One-Sheet McGee subscribes to ESPN radio host Mike Greenberg’s theory that to be given any credit for your picks, you should have just one “Sheet of Integrity.” McGee despises The Bet Hedger and can sleep well at night knowing that she will live and die by her one set of picks.
The odds are long for One-Sheet, but the satisfaction in winning is so much greater when she does pull it off. One-Sheet is probably somewhere between The Sudden Expert and The Real Expert and will graciously take her lumps when things go wrong. If she happens to win, she doesn’t need to rub it in because she knows she played the game the right way. Also, Bet Hedger thinks One-Sheet is just stupid.
7. Upset Guy
Poor, silly Upset Guy. He is addicted to the upsets, envisioning almost every game to be a dramatic stunner that sees a powerhouse go down in flames. But history tells us that top-four seeds almost always win the tournament. Still, Upset Guy always thinks this could be the year that total craziness dominates the field.
Then reality sets in as Upset Guy watches his teams go down like members of DeNiro’s crew in “Goodfellas” after the Lufthansa heist. Yes, Upset Guy, that is East Tennessee State frozen with meat hooks impaling it. So sorry for your losses; try again next year.
And, of course, he will take all of the 12 seeds to beat the 5 seeds.
8. The Homer
The Homer can’t help but to let his heart do the picking. Oftentimes an alum, he wants so badly to be able to root for his beloved team AND reap the benefits of said team winning. But unless he is on board with Kentucky, Duke, Kansas or another perennial powerhouse, this picking method typically will fail.
UC fans have experienced this a lot over the years. In the height of the Bob Huggins era, the Bearcats went to a Final Four and a couple Elite Eights. Year after year after that, the Bearcats would enter as a high seed, only to be upset before they should. But hope still sprang eternal every single year. And if you haven’t guessed, the author of this article might have had some personal experience with that particular example. My name is Dave, and I am a Homer.
Apathetico is waaaay too cool to join in your sportsball-related silliness. He is too busy listening to some rare Belle and Sebastian on phonograph while eating pretentious poutine-covered something or other before heading off to the barcade to admire some old-timey mustaches – preferably ones that curl at the ends. Oh, and play Defender. The only sportsball he might play is ironic four-square in a league at Washington Park. He liked Lonzo Ball until he found out he was a UCLA basketball player and not a jug band playing at the Woodward Theater.
We get it, Apathetico, it’s not your thing. So just stay out of the way and let everyone else enjoy the madness. And if you don’t, we’re sending the Bet Hedger your way. We heard he picked an upset and he wants to tell you about it. You’ve been warned.
Dave Niinemets is a digital enterprise editor at WCPO.com who oversees digital sports coverage among other topics. This column is his opinion.