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BracketRacket: The saddest NCAA basketball pool in America


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IF YOU CAN READ THROUGH THOSE EYE HOLES, LOOK OUT!

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BracketRacket is concerned about climate change. And mascot safety. In that order.

Apparently, so are the aforementioned No. 1 and No. 2 at the White House, which just announced an initiative to provide private companies and local governments better access to already public climate data. AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein reported the government is also working with several high-tech companies to develop computer simulations that model weather extremes, such as flooding, heat waves and drought, thus aiding officials trying to manage disaster risk. Someday soon, they hope to have an app for that.

Unfortunately, it might come too late to save many of the mascots at the NCAA tournament.

That dire prediction comes via the National Wildlife Federation, in a study titled "Mascot Madness: How Climate Change is Hurting School Spirit."

"From wolverines (Michigan) to gators (Florida), species that have spent countless centuries adapting a home court advantage are now watching the rules of the game changed before their eyes by industrial carbon pollution," wrote NWF senior scientist Doug Inkley, the lead author. "If we’re going to turn climate change into a Cinderella story, we need to act now."

The list of potential victims is almost too long to ponder: "Wildcats, Lions, Tigers, Bison, Rams, Bears, Wolverines, Wolves, Ducks, Falcons, Gators, Terrapins, Buckeyes, Orange(s?), Hurricanes, and even wheat (Shockers)" — all could be gone before you know it. Among the probable causes of their demise: altered habitats as a result of warmer temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and rising sea levels, as well as various reproductive threats.

Consider yourself warned.

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CELEBRITY ALUM (THOUGH ANTI-ALUM MIGHT BE MORE ACCURATE)

Nobody you know knows basketball better than Ricky Rubio — except when it comes to "March Madness."

The Minnesota Timberwolves point guard is one of the best ball-handlers and flashiest passers in the NBA. He’s so good that the Spaniard, who’s still only 23, turned pro at age 15. That’s the short explanation for why Rubio doesn’t have a dog in the NCAA tournament, or much of a clue, for that matter, what the fuss is all about.

"Everyone has his own team and I’m just out there picking, But there’s no one team I like because I never went to college here," he told AP’s Jon Krawczynski. "So it’s different."

Maybe that’s because Rubio’s rationale for filling out his bracket is fraught with bad karma. He picks against the schools his teammates played for, mostly so he can diss them once they get knocked out. At the top of this year’s target list are former Bruins Kevin Love, Shabazz Muhammad and Luc Mbah a Moute.

"When UCLA plays," Rubio chuckled, "I go for the other team."

He might want to rethink the strategy, though, now that rookie Gorgui Deng, who played on Louisville’s national championship team, is a teammate.

"Last year," Rubio groaned about his bracket, "I was kind of terrible. I didn’t put Louisville in the Final Four so it screwed me up."

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STAT OF THE DAY

Tournament experience counts for more than just knowing how to cut down the net. Stats LLC suggests keeping an eye on Florida and Louisville for that reason. The two favorites rank second and third in that category as the rest of the NCAA field goes to work beginning Thursday; Louisville’s active roster has 53 man-games of tournament experience, while Florida’s has 50. The leader is Ohio State, whose roster boasts a total of 54 games, but might be too short on talent to reach the first step of the ladder.

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