While filling out job applications in February, I was occasionally inquired to list what I think my weaknesses are. I would respond with: spelling, cursing, crossword puzzles, interviewing for a job, Pogo-Balling, remembering names, making my bed and microwaving popcorn.
Here I am in March; still searching for that Dream Job. Maybe it works against me sometimes, but I feel it’s important to be completely honest with any potential employer. Therefore, I now feel inclined to add one more weakness to that list: predicting winners of NCAA tournament games.
I mean, this is ridiculous. Does anyone mind if I just skip paying the house for a day and flush a five-dollar bill down the toilet instead? I promise I’ll take a picture and try to write about it.
I doubled down on No. 1 seed Kentucky yesterday in their “My Grandma can shoot better than that-and she’s dead” performance vs. West Virginia (I also put action on the Wildcats to win their region back on day one). That left me $5 poorer and with a ZERO accuracy rating in predicting Final Four teams for the first time in my life. My ESPN bracket tells me that I will have accurately picked 51% of ALL the games in the tournament. I suppose that’s what happens when most of the college basketball (or equivalent) I followed this season came by way of seven New York Knicks games (before they traded Nate Robinson, of course) and half of a New Jersey Nets game.
I haven’t been in a gambling slump that bothered me this much since I sat at the “Diff’Rent Strokes” themed nickel slot machine at O’Shea’s for a Tuesday afternoon.
Maybe I should just start asking Oak-Town, the guy who fries your Twinkies and Oreos downtown (Fremont St-Old Vegas) for help in making my picks. Seriously, he couldn’t do much worse.
There has been “One Shining Moment” for me during this tournament. I finished up Friday at Treasure Island with cash in my hand. I looked at the sports book’s digital board and saw Duke laying an -8.5 spread. Something spoke to me there. So I made like Vince Vaughn in Swingers and talked back to the board like it was a cocktail waitress: “There she is, the most special lady in town!”
That night she was wearing blue and her father likes to be referred to as Coach K. I guess all those hours I logged growing up playing his old video game on the Sega Genesis (not to mention 2 more the other day) finally paid dividends.
The funny thing about that first win was just how “hard to get” Duke played with my psyche during the first half: Senior All-American point guard John Scheyer didn’t make a field goal. As a team, Duke had 0 buckets made in the paint. They have four or five guys who can touch the rim without jumping!
Tom Petty once wrote “the waiting is the hardest part.” Well it was during the halftime break that I began to ask myself questions: Will I ever win here? And if so, will I ever catch up to The House? Should I have listened to the guy next to me who scoffs at the idea of betting on ANY NCAA tourney game; and instead puts down a pair of Benjamin’s on horses named “Backside Blackie” and “She’s A Cougar”? And why is the guy in front of me watching only FOX News with ear buds plugged into his personal set for hours upon end?
“So this must be what it feels like to drive through Texas?” I asked the horseracing junkie.
“What did I tell you, kid?” He responds politely. “Betting on basketball is like waiting for your female to get ready to go out for the evening. You never know what the end results are going to be like and it takes waaay too damn long to find out.”
Confucius couldn’t have said it better himself.
**$5-A-Day Running Tally:
Total Bets, Wagered: 8 @ $45
Total winnings: $9.10 (Coach K’s head should be added to Rushmore)
Overall balance versus house: -$35.90
Outstanding Bets: N/A
Next $5 Bet: NBA hump-day Wednesday