One does not simply whelp oneself. For one thing, it’s hard to know exactly what whelping means, because it is both a noun (a pup) and a verb (to produce a pup), and for another I was not even really a pup, as it might be understood relative to a human life-span, when our host GC noticed what an unpleasantly persistent comment section presence I was and offered me a chance to write on the site. I was not quite a whelp, and more a late-gestating dude with a lot of problems who’d found a website he liked; GC did not quite whelp me so much as he gave me a login, which I repeatedly forgot. But it was the start of my life as someone who makes a living by being wrong, strenuously and often at length, about sports. Whatever happened, however it happened, I wound up well and truly whelped. And, at the risk of belaboring the point about how good and cool I am, I never forgot what made me: being wrong as hell about pretty much everything.
It’s not fair to say that the CSTBracket is a tribute to that, although being wrong about our predictions is the one thing that every CSTBracket participant has in common with every other. Mostly it was just a thing I liked doing—being wrong, but also picking a super-shitty NCAA Tournament bracket—and which GC let me do when I asked if he would let me do it, a little over ten years ago. That is a long time to keep doing anything, especially if that thing is Overestimating Purdue Literally Every Single Year For Some Reason. But, as it happens, it is not actually that much work to set up a NCAA Tournament bracket on Yahoo Sports. For instance, I was able to do it myself in just a couple minutes. Click here and you’ll find the group; enter “cstb” as your password, without the quotes, and you will gain entry. None of this is difficult. I already knew this.
The difficult part, as always, as is not being wrong about too many games. It’s difficult because college basketball is insane, at least when it’s working properly, and because being surprised is the whole point of it. The idea is to be wrong. The idea of the CSTBracket was always to be wrong together. Whichever one of us winds up being least wrong will luck into some prize pack of GC’s choosing—last year it was some good stuff from 12XU and a saucy autographed photo of Marcus Fizer. This year, we might as well presume that there’s a Wally Szczerbiak bathing suit photo involved. Honestly, if you’re thinking about what you might win, you’ve already lost. Getting things right is not what this is about, or has ever been about.
It’s about getting shit wrong, gambling and losing, overthinking it or leaning too hard into what is not in fact a load-bearing hunch. That’s the point. That’s always been the point. Get the people together. Fuck it all up, get it all wrong. Do it again next year. This has always been what it’s about; it’s never really made sense as anything else. It is a privilege to be this wrong. It is an honor, always, to exercise it.