Monday, March 03, 2014

The Analog Bracket

If you are reading this, you may have noticed the lack of activity over at The Bracket Board this year. I have built projections for fun for 15 years now and, for me, fun and learning about the process lie at the core of bracketeering. But, having a full-time job, wife, two kids, etc., has wonderful, marvelous time costs. And, as much as I like bracketeering, I enjoy interacting with humans on the court and in the stands at games even more. So, a lot of my "hoops time" has been spent coaching 1st Grade basketball in Bowling Green, Kentucky, this year. Time is joyously short for bracketing stuff, and I am grateful for that reality. Few things rival the feeling of watching small children successfully work the pick-and-roll or give-and-go. More broadly, those basic plays allow children the joy of helping someone else be successful. It's a beautiful thing.

When I started this blog, I was hoping to add to the larger conversation and not just toss another projection onto the growing heap of quality ones out there. There were not so many back then, but now there are so many people doing a good job projecting brackets these days, I am not sure what I can add at this point on that level. I still do it when the time is there, but serious brackeeters are only going to disagree about the last few teams IN and some will line up with the committee's thoughts and some will not. I think the Lockbox still adds something a little different from most, so I will keep that updated as we head into selection Sunday. I will still do projections, but I am taking them in a different direction.

That leads me to the images below. As I said above, I coach 1st Grade basketballers, one of which happens to be my son. And, given his love of math and geography, I thought he might like to engage in the bracketeering this year. Boy, howdy. He is learning geography the way God intended: through plotting 351 Division I basketball teams on a map in the preseason, road-tripping to games during the year, and cutting up tiny strips of paper and building this Analog Bracket in March. It is basketball exploding out in colors, shapes, and the inexact lines of the human hand. It is the story and stories of hoops represented by two-inch strips of variously colored card stock (a different color representing each multi-bid conference) on yellow poster board, by Sharpie and Crayola, by scissors and rulers, by being transported back to 1982 (for me). The One-Bid Conferences are written on plain white paper in red ink: our army of White Knights of Hoopdom riding out to battle the Dragons of Power (All of Us, Each of Us #AOUEOU).

So, this is a real projection, but "who's in" has become secondary to "how do we represent it" here at TBB. The digital is great and helpful, but we will do it Analog Style making every effort to see (COLOR!), hear (squeaky markers and kwwwwippp!!!-ing scissors), touch (paper, pen, metal, wood...), smell (Sharpie, coffee, and paper), and taste (post-snow day pancakes lingered on the palate today as we worked) the bracket. The first image is the wide shot, and you can see the enlarged left and right sides below in the subsequent images.

When the projections are over, this will serve as our "fill as you go" bracket on Selection Sunday. The strips of card stock will disappear and the finality of the Blue Sharpie will replace our appropriately confetti-like creation. Because, regardless of who is IN/OUT, it will be a celebration of our sport and of all 351 voices represented by 68 unique and varied stories which will continue to be played out over three tidy weekends.

While I consult KenPom, the RPI, BB State, the Bracket Matrix, and assorted websites for information, the decisions come through the hand of a seven-year-old asking questions on seeding, geography, and the nature of "At Large" teams. Analog style.