2015 Raging Bracketology and a List of Free NCAA Bracket Contests for You to Lose

Time to fill out your brackets again and be reminded of the fun and futility of March Madness. (Jump ahead to the List of Free Bracket Contests.)

I do this every year. It’s amusing to feel like a genius for a couple of days (“Hey, look, one of my 17 brackets only has 3 missed picks through Sunday!”) only to come crashing back to reality later. All of my brackets are usually shredder-ready by the second Friday.

The odds of picking a perfect bracket are way worse than winning the lottery — not even in the same ballpark, probably not even the same galaxy.

Contest Odds (1 in)
Mega Millions lottery jackpot 175,711,536
Perfect bracket (choosing higher seeds) 35,360,000,000
Perfect bracket (randomly selected) 9,223,372,036,854,775,808

That’s why everybody and their grandmother can offer million dollar (and billion dollar!) prizes for their online bracket contest. It would be hilarious if some common bracket combination came true and they would have to pay up. On the last weekend, we would know a lot of people would be so close to the big prize. Shares of the company offering the prize would take a dive. What if all higher seeds did win? On several sites that would be the default pick set. Hundreds of people could win on computer or user error.

At least, in office pools you are only competing with mere mortals instead of perfection. They can be more exciting since you are still in the hunt longer. Of course, in office pools you probably know who the winner is, which could lead to more of a humiliated feeling when you are smoked by the guy who based his picks on which team had the cooler mascot or the woman who only picked teams from blue states.

Have no fear. You, too, can have a winning wacky bracket. Here are some suggestions on how to decide between two teams.

  • The old coin flip.
  • Which team is first/last alphabetically
  • The team with the fattest player
  • Mascot fight!
  • Oldest university
  • Ask a toddler to pick
  • Assign them sections on a dartboard
  • Lowest SAT scores
  • Uniform color/design

If you have any more suggestions, share them in the comments section. For a more rational approach, you can get some insight based on what the seeds have done historically. As you can see teams are given the seeds for a reason.

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Free Bracket Contest List

Finally, for your convenience, here’s a list of free bracket contests. Add your own in the comments section, and I’ll try to update the list if I find some new ones.  [*] Needs a link update from 2014.

Yahoo Tourney Pick’em

ESPN Tournament Challenge

FOX Bracket Challenge

CBS Bracket Challenge

Capital One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge

Green Turtle Bracket Challenge

*WJON Million Dollar Bracket Challenge

Pittsburgh City Paper Bracket Contest

Local10.com Bracket Challenge

WXNT Basketball Bracket Challenge

CBS12 Bracket Challenge

*Atlantic Coast Confidential Bracket Contest

*The Radio Network Bracket Challenge

*FOX4 KC Bracket Contest/

Washington Post Bracket Challenge

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

*CheapSeat Bracket Contest

Sports Illustrated Bracket Challenge

PowWows.com Bracket Challenge/

*Droid Life NCAA Bracket Challenge

*Smoking Musket Bracket Challenge

*Cleveland.com College Basketball Bracket Challenge

Canzano Bracket Challenge

*Stapletonion Bracket Challenge

1063 The Buzz Million Dollar Bracket Challenge

106.5 The Ticket Bracket Challenge

ToBeDirect Bracket Challenge

Have fun!

Justice Scalia’s 79th Birthday Reminds Us of the Coming Constitutional Crisis

Today is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s 79th birthday. I rarely agree with his opinions but they are usually a fun read. You have to admit, he has style. Now, the average retirement age for justices since 1970 is 79, so Justice Scalia’s birthday is a reminder that his turn on the Court is coming to an end soon.  I’ll give you a moment …

Justice Antonin Scalia

via NBC news

Now that you’re back from your happy dance or sob session, I’ll tell you that the transition to the post-Nino era will not be a smooth one.

First, I don’t see Scalia retiring, ever.  You can tell that this is a man that loves his job.  Good for him.  Also, he’s an ardent ideologue.  He will stay on the court to promote and defend his vision of the constitution (and America) as long as physically possible.  That’s another reason John Oliver’s bulldog Scalia was a good choice.  He will definitely not choose to step down under a Democratic president.

So how’s his health? I don’t know how his robe’s been fitting him lately, but he’s still kind of jowly at 79. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t make it to the end of the decade. On the other hand, he could have an epiphany and decide that his politics are best served by maximizing his health by changing his eating habits. (He will probably find the WiseFather’s Defiant Diet to be unpatriotic in its refusal to let one’s body be the dumping ground for food corporations’ “externalities,” saying it’s downright un-American not to eat Oreos & drink Coca-Cola.) I’m sure there are dozens of conservative personal trainers willing to volunteer to take one for the team and sign up and pester Justice Scalia every day.

So what will happen when Scalia (or Kennedy or Thomas) is gone (one way or the other)? In the current political climate, no Democratic president’s appointee to replace one of the conservative judges will make it out of the Senate Judiciary committee under a Republican majority. If the Senate control flip, then they’ll filibuster.

How about a recess appointment?  A Republican Senate will stay in session to prevent a Democratic president from having the chance to make a recess appointment.  Such an appointee would still need to be confirmed by the next Senate, but could in the meantime vote as part of a new court majority to make new precedent that the GOP would not like. It won’t happen, and I don’t foresee a Democratic president bold enough to even try it.

So we’ll be left with a vacancy and the Court will be stuck with 4-4 ties on even slightly controversial cases. This means the lower court’s ruling is affirmed, and no action is taken by the court.  No opinion is issued and the “decision” does not become binding precedent on the issue.  A tie is really a win for whoever doesn’t need the court to act.

The 4-4 deadlock would hold until either there’s a Republican president or a Democratic president with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Neither scenario seems likely well into the next decade. What’s more likely to break the deadlock is a departure by another judge.

So be careful what you wish for: Scalia’s retirement will put the Supreme Court into a stasis mode, frozen in time, neither alive nor dead, effectively disabling the top of one branch of government. Leaving the judiciary broken for such a long period of time if it is not itself a constitutional crisis, could easily lead to one. Just imagine what would have happened if Bush v. Gore reached a broken court.

 

These Idiot “Journalists” are Using the Term “Emailgate”

A recurring criticism on the vapid laziness of modern journalism is the creation and overuse of the “-gate” suffix for every scandal. Again, you are not being clever. Stop it.

The latest scandal has to do with presumed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address during her term as Secretary of State.  Was it illegal?  Probably not.  Does it make you look sneaky?  Yes.  Should you have known your enemies would make a fuss about it?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  I haven’t read them, so I don’t know if there’s a secret worth keeping.

Below is the list of hacks using the term “emailgate.” Expect the list to grow.

Time to surrender your journalism degree.

Maryland Senator Mikulski to Retire, Giving Martin O’Malley a Place to Go the Minute Hillary Clinton Announces Her Candidacy

Longtime Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has announced she will not seek re-election in 2016. This opens the door for perpetually ambitious former Governor Martin O’Malley to take her place in the Senate if/when Hillary Clinton finally announces her candidacy for president.  If Clinton doesn’t run, then O’Malley will announce his candidacy less than a week later.  If she does run, he is certainly better off waiting for his next chance while serving in the Senate.

I’m sure he’s looking forward to running against former Governor Bob Ehrlich again, as Erhlich, similarly is in the fringes of contention for his party’s presidential nomination and would also be a lock for his party’s nomination for the Senate seat.

One last thing:  Senator Mikulski, if you vote for “Fast Track” and/or the TPP, you will be retiring in shame.  Lame ducks still need to do their jobs.