A Week in Links: March 17

Welcome to the Madness. It’s St. Patrick’s Day and it’s Selection Sunday. That means tons and tons of brackets are compiled, money is wagered and productivity in the United States plummets. Along with the actual March Madness bracket, which was revealed tonight, there are a ton of other brackets floating around the internet. I’ll have more about the actual NCAA tournament but until then, here are a few of the web’s best.

Grantland put together a bracket of the most hated college players of the last thirty years. Duke has an entire region to itself, though any of those Dukies could win in any other region. Grantland even did an interview with J.J. Redick on how he handled the hate.

“I probably deserved it,” Redick says. “I was sort of a prick.”

As far as picks go, I have (2) J.J. Redick taking the Duke Region, (1) Jalen Rose winning the 90’s, (1) Patrick Ewing taking the 80’s and Joakim Noah rounds out the Final Four from the 00’s. Redick and Noah to the finals and, you guessed it, J.J. Redick – one of my favorite college players ever – is also the most hated player in recent memory. There’s even a Baltimore sports blog called “I hate J.J. Redick.”

The Wall Street Journal sports guys present their third annual “Blindfold Bracket,” where they rank all the teams in their normal seeding but replace their nickname with something else. It takes the pressure off of the bracket picker, blind decisions are likelier to be more accurate than “going with your gut.”

This year we retired animal names and have introduced inanimate-object aliases such as the Doorknobs and Gumball Machines. There’s nothing fake about the team profiles, however: Each presents actual strengths and weaknesses without giving away a team’s identity.

Liberated from their love and vitriol, fans can make rational decisions. Those who believe three-point shooting is critical or experience is overrated can make guilt-free picks of teams they hate.

Their bracket hasn’t been posted yet, but check back here tomorrow – I’ll post it. It’s a phenomenal idea.

And finally, a bracket that is close to my heart is the AL.com Alabama BBQ Bracket. Growing up in Birmingham and going to school with the family behind the Central Region #1 seed, Jim N’ Nick’s, I have to go with the Central Region to carry the Birmingham area and win the whole thing. Roll Tide, BHam BBQ. The Central Region has Moe’s, Saw’s, Dreamland, Golden Rule, and Andy Staples’ greatest restaurant in the country – Archibald’s. You can’t go wrong.

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