By Chris Hrabe:

Welcome to March Madness 2021!

In case you aren’t aware, I consider myself a public servant, a sort of ‘competition concierge’ for all matters regarding the nuance of sport. Since we missed out on March Madness last year, how about we get reacquainted with some of the most notable participants in this year’s field?

It doesn’t matter where you’re watching the action this March, who you’re watching it with, or if you’re even watching at all. You will surely have to navigate this year’s incredibly deep bracket to make it into April and through the NCAA Tournament.

With that, let’s meet some of the contenders, the top-seeds from each region that seem to dance their way into our lives, invited or not, every year!


“Office/Co-Worker” Region: 

  • Co-Worker who stands in front of the common area TV with multiple brackets, toggling between each game and updating the variety of possible outcomes


Yeah, this is a blue-blood, they seem to find their way to a #1 seed every single year. Whether or not you care in the LEAST, they’re going to tell you that they DID INDEED pick that #14 seed over the #3. But only in ONE of their brackets. They have the #3 seed in the other two. Also, a relative of theirs went to a school that is a trendy underdog this year, so they had them getting to the Sweet 16 way before they were trendy. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this powerhouse? The conviction and self-importance to truly believe that anyone cares! 

“Friends & Family” Region:

  • Person in the bracket pool you’re in online that replies-all to the emails asking anyone that hasn’t paid to please pay, and no one really knows who they are, who they know, or why they keep responding


Talk about gaining a LOT of momentum in recent years. It wouldn’t be fair to call this program a newcomer. Anything they lack in experience or a basic grasp of how to use the most rudimentary aspects of email is made up for with dogged determination. You know exactly the scenario: you’re in a pool with some people you know, some people you kind of know, and others that you have no connection to other than these few weeks each year. And like clockwork, like John Wooden and the high post offense, they just keep playing to their strength, which of course is an inability to use email. If they get hot early, you might even get some rogue correspondence in the middle of summer. What a treat! 

And a quick nod to the #2 seed that was just edged out — guy you don’t know at all who sends an email to everyone halfway through the first day of games asking if anyone wants to start a ‘second chance’ bracket, because they are already eliminated!

“Watching The Games” Region:

  • The surly bartender who has to ‘check with my manager’ or ‘see if I can find a remote’ before any of the TVs (almost certainly not calibrated to maximum viewing efficiency) can be changed

You talk about resiliency, you talk about the bartenders who have to be excited about another March of not ever changing the TVs despite how many times they are asked. Now, I understand that this might be a particularly regionally-specific squad, but boy are they a handful when they’re in the mix. Maybe the most impressive attribute is the consistency: the fact that since the start of time, these bartenders have been asked virtually every shift they have ever worked, to change a television. And they still won’t do it. Great to have a familiar foe back in the tournament, and stay safe out there! Especially if you’re the one asking for the TV to be changed.

The “We Get It, Buddy” Region

An incredibly deep group, so let’s have a quick look at the top-5 seeds in the region:

  • The “I don’t know anything, I just picked based on the mascot and/or city and/or color” person: I know. And you’re beating me. Enough said.
  • The “scenario” clown, armed and ready with a full breakdown of where they stand in each of their various bracket contests, and what happens based on each Final 4 and Championship Game scenario.
  • Darren Rovell
  • ‘College athletes really should be paid because do you know how much CBS pays for the TV rights to the Tournament’ guy
  • Person who went to the small liberal-arts school that makes a run to the Sweet 16 and uses “we” and “us” when talking about the team despite having never watched a game, even this year, literally as the team is making the run

Maybe it’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. So welcome back, all of the things that make March Madness what it is. And remember, even if that random who keeps replying-all to the emails with weird emojis is filling up your inbox, at least it means March Madness is back. 

(Although, heads up when their email is annually compromised and you get all sorts of sketchy spam from them in June.)