My NCAA Tournament bracket pool is made up of five hardcore competitors. I’m talking cutthroat competitive here. Bloodthirsty. They make Bobby Knight look like Bobby Brady. So, now that I have a pretty good shot at winning this thing with my 11 teams still standing, it’s time for a little good-natured jawing or, in my case, praising. The following bracket pool players are in order of their current standing:

Dad: You who picked Illinois to win it all last year, and you who played D-I ball at Illinois State about 100 years/pounds ago, of all people, should have known that the Fighting Illini would not make it out of the second round, and that Bradley, which is just a 30-mile drive from your alma mater and a university with a name personally attached to you, would shock the world. Since you don’t think the name of your second born is inspiration enough to make a pick, I can only assume you don’t use my birthdate when you play the lottery either. Yes, indeed you may be leading with your 32-16 record, but Iowa will soon haunt you.

Me: You are brilliant. Just don’t let it be known that the only reason you picked Boston College was its somewhat tenuous connection to the Irish, and that your St. Patrick’s Day celebration began a week earlier this year.

Stepmom: Can’t for the life of me figure out how you chose Texas A&M for the winner of the LSU versus Iona game, but sometimes when you stare at these brackets long enough they can make you dizzy. Nevertheless, you’re still a respectable 29-19, but Ohio State has let you down big time.

Grandma: It wouldn’t be a true Spencer family college basketball pool without your picks: sent via snail mail two days late, in an oversized envelope adorned with about a trillion stamps and wrapped in enough tape I had to use a buzz saw to open it. And then the bracket itself is the size of a full broadsheet page that you got out of your local newspaper. Your bracket is so gargantuan it makes me wish I had an easel in the house. We took it off the garage door after it blew onto someone’s windshield and nearly caused a five-car pile up. It’s currently being used to keep the dust off the Honda Civic in the carport.

As for your picks: Oral Roberts, Grandma? Really? What were you thinking? Please tell me you were brushing your teeth while making that pick. Also, you forgot to write in a championship winner. I love you Grandma, but I will disqualify you.

Wife: You are supposed to hail from Indiana, hoops capital of the world. Yet you are in last place. Your two-time defending title is seriously in jeopardy. But I won’t hold it against you. After all, we are still living off your winnings from the Oscar pool!


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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...