Face It. You’re Going To Lose Your Office Pool.

I’m excited. And not just because Todd Rundgren has joined with the members of The Cars who are either not producing Weezer albums (Ric Ocasek) or dead (Benjamin Orr) to form something unimaginatively named “The New Cars.” (Although I am a little excited about that.)

Sidebar: I was introduced to Todd Rundgren by a boss I had when I was 17. I never became a Rundgren fanatic, but I own several of his CDs and anytime I hear his name or music I am immediately transported back to my halcyon days of working the box office at Movies at Burnsville II in Burnsville, Minnesota. I realize this means nothing to most of you, but my life without that year would be like The Price is Right without Bob Barker or The Cars without Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr.

It’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament time. It’s time to stop pretending to work and fill out your bracket, probably on company time. (To be followed by two days of following games on-line or on your cell phone, also probably on company time. Come to think of it, the opening Thursday and Friday of March Madness are two of the most unproductive days of the year for most male workers, perhaps topped only by the day that the annual Maxim 100 Sexiest Women list is released. Oh, how the debate can rage on that day. Personally, I don’t know how they can always leave off Joan Rivers.)

Most columnists will take some time this week to tell you how to fill out your bracket: Remember that a 12 seed will always beat a 5 seed, no Final Four has ever consisted of four number one seeds, guard play is key, yada yada yada.

I’m here to tell you that, while it’s fun to play — for recreational purposes only — chances are that by the time the field of Sweet Sixteen teams are set, your bracket is going to be messier than my father’s shirt after Barbeque night at the Old Country Buffet.

So here’s my advice: Take all of the teams seeded 13 and lower and bounce them immediately. Take the 12th seed that conjures up the most pleasant thoughts and pick them for an upset. (For me, that would be Montana, because it reminds me of the Big Montana sandwich at Arby’s.) Take the two eleventh-seeded teams that you can make the funniest-sounding anagrams with and take them to the next round (I like “Tease Gina’s Dot” for San Diego State.) In honor of former Minnesota Vikings great Fran Tarkenton, take all teams seeded number 10. In the eight/nine matchups, take the team playing closest to home and then pick the opposite team because as we all know, home court doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

For all subsequent rounds, take the team seeded higher, except when they play a team with a coach born in a leap year. When you get to the Final Four, make sure you don’t have more than two #1 seeded teams. If you do, immediately replace one of them with last year’s women’s NIT champion. For the championship, go with Duke, North Carolina, or Connecticut, whichever of the three teams has student athletes with the highest grade point average in classes meeting in the afternoon on alternate Wednesdays.

Should you follow this advice, you’ll probably wind up right where you would have anyway in your office pool. Just out of the money. But should a miracle happen and you actually do well, my advice would be to take your winnings and buy a Todd Rundgren CD, preferably Something/Anything? You’ll thank me later.


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