Need your windshield squeegeed? Here, I’ve got a bottle of Windex and my NCAA tournament bracket to do the job right. Sit back, relax, I’ll have you back on the road in no time.

The reason I don’t need to find a rag to rid your car of bug guts is that, after only the first and second rounds, my NCAA tournament bracket is about as useless as a damp Kleenex. Yes, when it was first filled out, I was certain I would eventually laminate it, frame it and have it mounted on a wall at the Dean Smithsonian. I had the upper hand after all, being a sports editor-one who lives, loves sports, all sports.

Folks assume the job title comes with the gift of seeing into the future, or they think you’re blessed with supreme luck. Fact is, I filled my bracket out probably like you, on a whim, without regard for schedules, points allowed, injuries, personnel match-ups, and what-not.

While I didn’t go by who had the most ridiculous school mascots (The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels’ mascot is a shark?) or team colors, I was still pretty much in the dark when it came to schools outside the Big Ten. And so Wisconsin burst my bracket, rendered it a greasy napkin, a moldy handkerchief, with its 74-68 upset loss to, yes, UNLV, on Sunday. It was hard to take. I had only recently driven the family home from a road-trip vacation to and from Florida. One way was 20-hours and 1,200 miles. Get in the house, get to the bathroom, get to the couch to stretch out. Now turn on the tube, see how badly the Badgers are crucifying-what the …?

Fine, I can live with Wisconsin muffing it; I deserve the humiliation. No Bears fan would ever root for any team in the cheese state. What was I thinking anyway?

But now there’s just one team from the Big Ten left, Ohio State. Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, and Wifconsin (no typo) fell faster than these bird droppings I’m trying to scrape off your windshield.

Can’t I find a way to root for Southern Illinois University? I’d rather drink turpentine and relieve myself on a brush fire. The Salukis might as well be Long Beach State or Belmont (where are these schools?), for all I know about them. But it’s not like I’m going to be pushing for Kansas either. I’m an underdog-man.

It’s my own fault. On the way down to the panhandle, all the signs were there. “You Are Now Entering Tennessee.” But can the Vols beat Ohio State? Who knows? I don’t, do you? Xavier, a No. 8 seed, nearly upset the Buckeyes. You don’t know and I don’t know. And for me now it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m out, done. I’m just back to being a sports fan watching a sport.

The light is about to change. No, no, no keep your dime. I just wanted this bracket to be good for something.


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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...