No, that’s not the percentage of those expecting the re-release of “Titanic” to include a new, M. Night Shyamalan-inspired twist ending. “Jack was an iceberg the whole time!”
Sadly, it was the percentage of games I accurately predicted during the recently concluded NCAA men’s basketball tournament, an event known colloquially as “March Madness” but that I’ve come to know as “The Time of Year I Receive Gloating Texts from My Mom and Baby Sister.”
But as the late Spanish philosopher and poet George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to have one of their Final Four picks go out in the first round to Norfolk State.”
In that spirit, I thought it helpful to list some valuable lessons I learned from this year’s tournament in the hopes of avoiding these pitfalls next March.
• Watch more reality TV, C-SPAN or really anything other than basketball in the days leading up to Selection Sunday: Failing to do so will lead to you watching relatively meaningless conference tournaments and making statements like “Belmont is this year’s VCU” or “I think Vermont could be trouble for someone.”
• Your heart knows nothing: I sabotaged my own bracket by picking my beloved Indiana Hoosiers to win the whole darn thing but I couldn’t bring myself to pick against them. Stupid. The Hoosiers’ loss in the third round to eventual national champion Kentucky resulted not only in the loss of my rooting interest but the collapse of my bracket.
• Hear about a chic upset pick? Run in the opposite direction: These never, ever pan out. Don’t be swayed by ESPN’s talking heads, especially Digger Phelps. No man who consciously matches his shirts and ties with a highlighter can be trusted.
• Fill out your bracket with the help of an animal: Find a monkey, a horse, or maybe an octopus. That seemed to work out pretty well during the 2010 World Cup.
As we bid farewell to March Madness, an event that bizarrely concludes in April, this week’s playlist is a salute to the musicians of the Bluegrass state, home of the national champion Kentucky Wildcats.
As a proud Hoosier, I hated writing that as much as one might expect.
• The Everly Brothers, “Keep a Knockin’” — Don and Phil Everly gave us some of the best two-part harmonies in the history of rock’n’roll.
• Cage the Elephant, “Shake Me Down” — Kentucky’s answer to the Arctic Monkeys.
• Rosemary Clooney, “Sway” — A once-in-a-generation voice.
• Mike Doughty, “Madeline and Nine” — Contains some of my favorite lyrics ever. “Call me back when the war is over/Call me back when your boyfriend’s gone/I’m aware of your oscillations/Don’t believe I’m the only one.”
• My Morning Jacket, “Gideon” — Any playlist of Kentucky artists would be woefully incomplete without My Morning Jacket.
• Dwight Yoakam, “A Long Way Home” — Ditto for Dwight Yoakam.
• Ricky Skaggs, “Highway 40 Blues” — Whether you like country music — or not (I don’t), we can all agree that Ricky Skaggs is a phenomenal musician.
• Nappy Roots, “Awnaw” — A song I find impossible not to like.
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