March is here, and that can mean only two things: Winter is just about over (we hope), and March Madness 2019 is about to begin.
March Madness is an event that turns even the most unenthusiastic of spectators into superfans as 64 of the best college basketball teams take to the court to determine the 2019 NCAA Tournament champion.
Each year, a Cinderella team comes out of nowhere to capture the limelight, favorites fall early, and perennial champions are never a lock to win.
No tournament ever plays out as the experts predict. Therefore, even those most apathetic to sports become crazed fans. I’m talking soccer moms, CEOs, presidents, and even Warren Buffett gets in on the fun of filling out brackets.
Where most experts see a “potential upset,” you see “two schools I didn’t know existed.”
But the casual office pool or friendly bracket contest probably won’t go away anytime soon.
Going mad for March Madness in New Jersey
Whether you’re an NCAA basketball fan or not, March Madness brings out the competitor in all of us. And friendly bracket contests are as common as apple pie.
You can go with the pundits and the predictors for the best bracketology, but not everyone leans that way when it comes to picking winners.
Here are four types of bracket players, along with their unique bracket strategies, that you’ll likely find in every March Madness office pool:
Meet the artist. He is the kind of guy who quits his little league team after two games and trades in his baseball bat for a sweet new guitar.
This guy doesn’t like to be bound by the confines of traditional American pastimes such as baseball or basketball. He would much rather listen to extremely melodramatic guitar-based music, containing emotionally charged lyrics about misery and heartbreak.
He’s no sell out. But nobody is too punk rock for March Madness.
Our artist is the guy who picks his favorite teams based on their uniform colors. His system favors only teams with neutral colors — Beige, black, gray, and so on. Team colors with neon greens, bright reds, and royal blues will usually get the ax.
It may not be the most conventional type of fandom, but this punk rock rebel will never conform to the monotony of society.
The dark horse
The dark horse doesn’t have time to worry about sports. Simply put, she just doesn’t care.
The dark horse couldn’t care less about records, the number of playmakers, or strength of schedule. She has no main criteria or strategy for penciling in one team over another. The fandom will mostly come down to literal coin flips.
Yes, our dark horse may look unassuming with little to no sports knowledge, but we’re talking about one of the most unpredictable sporting events of all time.
Nobody really knows what’s going to happen. So, when it comes to the integration of competition, it doesn’t hurt to be on extra-high alert with this one.
The underdog is a genuine sports fan who always roots against the favorite. Rocky is his favorite movie, Tom Brady is his worst enemy, and Jason Kelce’s underdog Super Bowl parade speech in Philly was the greatest moment of his life.
With all his sports knowledge, he should be a favorite to pick the best team in the whole tournament.
But his biggest passion may also be is his biggest downfall. You will definitely see several upsets throughout the tournament, but this guy takes his passion for the underdog to a whole new level.
In fact, his love for the underdog makes him an actual underdog. WOOF!
Meet our homer. Everyone knows a fan who is an absolute homer. I’m talking about the impossibly optimistic fan who throws reason, rationality, and even reality out the window when it comes to a specific alma mater or hometown team.
The type of homer who truly believes most referees want nothing more than to engineer the downfall of their proud team.
If this homer doesn’t happen to have a favorite college team, March Madness will change all that — even if it’s only for a short time.
She’ll find her favorite team and make it painstakingly obvious to those around her. She’ll wear the colors, learn the fight song, and she will probably even visit the campus to take a few hundred selfies.
Although the homer may be the most annoying fan you meet this March, don’t worry about it too much. Once her team gets bumped from the tournament, she will be nowhere to be found. Go home, homer.
No office pool? No problem
There’s much more to March Madness than the 64-team, bracket-style office pool.
Thanks to the launch of legal sports betting in New Jersey, you don’t have to be part of an actual March Madness bracket pool to enjoy the NCAA men’s basketball betting extravaganza.
Online sportsbooks throughout NJ will take bets on every 2019 March Madness game. With 13 NJ sports betting apps and 10 retail books, finding a platform to take your March Madness bets legally is easier than ever.
And if a bracket contest is still your thing, DraftKings Sportsbook launched one just this week. A free-to-play national contest includes $64,000 in cash prizes, but an NJ-only contest with a $20 buy-in has $100,000 up for grabs.
It’s entirely possible you’ll find a few artists, homers, and underdog believers in those contests, too.