Over the next 36 hours or so, millions of Americans will be checking the scores of March Madness games obsessively, then re-checking the NCAA Tournament brackets they filled out so they can calculate if they’re in the running to win their office pools —or at least can brag about that 12-5 upset they called.
So many will. But not me.
I haven’t filled out an NCAA bracket in almost a decade.Can’t do it.Won’t do it. Not worth it.
Here’s the thing:If I do well in my bracket, my co-workers say I cheated. "Oh, you had help from your husband."If I do poorly, they say, "What —didn’t you get help from Mike?" What’s a woman to do?
I remember many years ago, as I was just starting to climb the ladder in corporate communications and Michael was making a name for himself covering Duquesne and later Pitt basketball for The Pittsburgh Press, my boss —a wonderful but highly intimidating vice president —called me into his office.
"Deb, can you please come here now?"My heart raced as I walked to his door. What did I do wrong?
Turns out NCAA brackets were due in 20 minutes and he wanted some professional help. "Hey, can we get Mike on the phone?" Sure thing!
Talk about pressure —pressure on Michael and pressure on me. What if my boss didn’t do well inhis pool? My future in the corporate world was at stake here! As I recall, he did quite well, well enough to hold his own among his banking peers.
I remember another March years ago when I filled out a company bracket. I used my own strategy for picking my teams. I picked coaches I thought were cute. Hey, I was young, and Rick Pitino was cute. Kentucky did well that year, and so did I.
That didn’t matter. It was suggested by more than a few of coworkers that I did well because, you know, "She’s married to Mike."
Over the years, as my husband has become one of the country’s leading college basketball experts, I gained enough personal knowledge of the sport to think I could fill out adecent bracket. But I won’t. You don’t live with a guy who talks basketball over breakfast, lunch and dinner and not pick up a few things about the game.
I’ve dined with Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. It seems like every time I fly from the Indianapolis airport we find ourselves at the gate with Butler coach Chris Holtmann. Purdue coach Matt Painter was in town recruiting a while back and the two of us bumped into him at the Fashion Mall at Keystone. He and Michael did not talk about the weather.
I know Kentucky always has great freshmen. I know how to spell Krzyzewski. (You think that’s so tough? My maiden name is Konieczka!) I know which coaches are on the bubble. And I know enough not to fill out a bracket.
So enjoy your brackets America. Relish in the excitement of your official or unofficial NCAA office pools and spend your winnings wisely. I’ll be on the sidelines watching it all.
Debra DeCourcy is the Chief Marketing Director at the Indiana Farm Bureau. She has been married to Mike DeCourcy for more than three decades. Her record in the IFB 2017 NCAA Tournament pool is 0-0.