NEWS FLASH: Every American gambles illegally

Frustration. Photo courtesy of Eli Kratt.
Frustration. Photo courtesy of Eli Kratt.

Basketball fans, chances are you filled out a bracket for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Also, chances are that bracket is nowhere near close to actuality. And on top of all that you have to worry about, you can now be paranoid about your local police force because they’re after you.

This year’s Final Four, held in Houston, TX, consists of the four victors in each region of the tournament bracket: Butler (8-seed) from the Southeast, Connecticut (3) from the West, Kentucky (4) from the East, and the very surprising Virginia Commonwealth (11) from the Southwest (the “Cinderella” team this year).

This year’s Final Four field is the only one in NCAA Tournament history to have zero #1 seeds as well as no #2 seeds still in contention.

So, if you lost significant sums of money in the office bracket pool, now you know why — the totally unpredictable nature of this year’s tournament is driving the greenbacks out of the pockets of those of us who once thought we understood college basketball.

Wait, what? You didn’t fill out a bracket? Then you’re one of the few Americans who hasn’t committed what is actually considered in most parts of our fine nation to be absolutely illegal.
According to, 100 million Americans are predicted to risk around $3 billion on this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Don’t expect the FBI to come beat down your door for putting $5 on Duke. But still, it’s an entertaining notion that this regularly enjoyed and fairly public annual athletic amusement is actually outlawed in most states.

That won’t stop this reporter from openly telling readers that The Mycenaean staff ran their own ten-member bracket pool. But until this championship is through I’ll watch over my shoulder a little more, just in case.

But hey, some of you probably joined a bracket pool for a reason, right?

“My picks are foolproof,” said Mark Conrad, a Leesville senior and bracket pool participant, who started out as overconfident as the rest of us. “Clearly, Kansas will be the champs this year.”

Every year, seemingly all sports-inclined American citizens think they can pick some favorites and effortlessly master The Bracket. However, every year, poor, delusional basketball enthusiasts fail to tame The Bracket and end up shredding, burning, or just sobbing over their decimated predictions.

If this fixation seems odd, it’s probably because no outsider sees a point in taking a stab at this monstrosity of a tournament bracket (that’s 68 teams, for those of you keeping score at home) where 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible bracket outcomes exist. That means that if everyone on the planet each randomly filled out a bracket, the odds would be over ONE BILLION TO ONE against any person having a perfect bracket [stats courtesy of].

And despite the insurmountable odds, millions of Americans every year pit their imagined expertise against each other in hopes of gaining some dignity and a couple bucks — illegally, on top of all that.

Of course, I’m one to talk… that Mycenaean pool I mentioned? Yeah, I came ninth out of ten.



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