It's not what you know

Creighton, it can now be told, is a mortal lock to beat Iowa in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. You can take this to the bank, pal.

How do I know - especially when there are only six people in the entire country who have seen Creighton play and even fewer who actually know what or where Creighton is?



I know this because Loretta, a secretary at my brother's law firm in Connecticut, says so.


Loretta, who knows nothing about basketball and who will be sound asleep 10 seconds into your explanation of how a 2-3 matchup zone works, has won the firm's last two NCAA pools.

That, of course, is the true beauty of NCAA office pools.

If there is one indisputable fact about March Madness, it's this: Among the millions who take part in office NCAA pools every year, no one who knows anything about college basketball has ever won one.

Your brother-in-law, Leonard, the sports geek who subscribes to six different college basketball publications, worships at a basement shrine to announcer Dick Vitale and has a satellite dish the size of the one atop the NSA complex so he can watch the University of Hawaii play Stanford at 2 in the morning - he will not win his office pool.

Lenny, the poor sap, has no shot at all.

But Loretta up in Connecticut - she could clean up. For the third year in a row.

So for those looking for a sure thing, these, I'm told, are a few of the ways Loretta picks her teams:

She likes teams with unusual-sounding names. Gonzaga, for instance. (Gun-ZAH-gah.) They're a No. 12 seed in the South regional, but she has them beating fifth-seeded Virginia.


"Isn't that the coolest name?" she said to my brother, penciling the small Catholic college in Spokane as a first-round winner on her pairings sheet.

He, of course, nodded politely, went back inside his office, and promptly wrote Gonzaga on his own sheet.

She loves cats and will pick any team that has a cat-related nickname (Kentucky Wildcats, Penn State Nittany Lions, and so on.)

If there are no schools with unusual-sounding names or cat-related nicknames, she will simply pick the first team listed in each bracket on her pairing sheet.

In the second round of the West regional, for example, if Maryland were to play Georgia State, she would pick Georgia State.

Because it would be, um, listed first.


It's true what they say about genius: It so often goes unrecognized.