This is a printable NCAA tournament bracket. It has something to do with basketball. Everyone at your work is going to be talking about it -- your boss, the administrative assistant who rattles cough drops against his molars, the weird guy in HR -- so play along. Pretend like you know something about it. Fill in the bracket like a good automaton. There you go. Fill in the bracket …
Except, hold on, maybe there's a better way to do this than by mostly random guesses based on arbitrary seedings. Maybe there's a way to help you. Maybe there's a way for baseball to help you fill in your bracket. The odds are that baseball will be right, seeing as even spring training is much better than college basketball (give or take).
So here's what we did: We found the best major leaguer produced by each school, and filled in the bracket that way. There was only one school that didn't produce a professional player (North Carolina Central), so we lifted a name off their school's list of team records. At the risk of spoiling this, NC Central will probably not win the tournament.
Here, then, is exactly how the tournament is going to happen:
What did we learn? Considering that Cal Poly are 1000-to-1 to even make it out of the Midwest Regional, you can make a lot of money by betting on them. Now, this isn't official advice. I'm not qualified to give such advice. But if you were to get a line of credit on something, like your house, and use the money to place a wager at a legal wager-placing institution, you could get so, so rich.
The closest matchup might have been between Sandy Koufax and Jackie Robinson. I chose Koufax because while I'm all for trolling with the Bonds/Arizona St. champions, there was something about him beating Robinson that made even a Giants fan a little fidgety, just on general principle.
Arizona State will win. This is pretty much guaranteed. The Sun Devils will win, probably while cheating, but we won't find out about the violations for a couple years, so don't worry about your winnings. They aren't coming back for those. Put almost everything on Arizona St. to win, and put everything on Cal Poly to make the Elite Eight. Baseball is telling you to.
You wouldn't doubt baseball, would you?
(Here's a blank if you disagree with the filled-in bracket. The Clemens/Bonds matchup in the first round was a doozy.)