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March Madness

Andy Ouriel • Aug 27, 2014 at 3:15 PM

The tipoff of March Madness pleases millions of people, including many in northern Ohio.

From dedicated alums to college basketball enthusiasts and even casual viewers looking to score a few bucks, the NCAA tournament entices all sorts of people to watch and play along.

The tournament’s allure largely derives from people trying to accurately predict the outcome of all 60-plus single-elimination games played within a threeweek period.

It’s more than a long shot for any one person to accurately forecast each game.    In fact, one expert said a person has a better chance of seeing Elvis crash his spaceship into the Loch Ness Monster, twice, than successfully inking in the victor of each tournament game before they’re played.

Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans are partnering up to offer $1 billion to anyone submitting a 100 percent correct bracket this year.

The maddening part of March Madness might come from knowing just how nearly impossible it is to predict a perfect bracket.

Despite the odds, people still fill out brackets, hoping their choice of champion prevails and their upset selections advance.

“You might not know anything about the team you picked, but the game’s still important to you, so you’re paying particular attention to it,” said Chris Biechele, owner of Cheers Sports Bar and Grill at Sandusky Mall.

Cheers is one of several local places hosting a bracket contest.

“This tournament always brings people out because filling out a bracket is something everyone can do” Biechele said.

Some participants do their homework before entering a contest.

Take Norwalk resident and area mortgage banker Todd Lillo, who follows a seemingly flawless blueprint for success.

Lillo waits until the last moment before completing his bracket, in case a random injury occurs to a star player on a particular team. He also sides with teams playing well late in the season, and he favors squads with veteran coaches who went deep in past tournaments.

“I’ll jump in NCAA pools with friends and co-workers, and I also like to enter online to see how well my picks do not only against local friends but across the country” Lillo said.

He also partakes in predicting winners to relive fond memories.

“Growing up in the 1980s, my father, Jerry Lillo, would pencil out NCAA brackets as soon as they were announced,” Lillo said. “He’d make three copies: one to write in his predictions, one to follow week-byweek progress and the third he gave to me.

“I enjoyed seeing how well I could guess all the winners, and soon started to make my own,” he said. “Now, every year when teams are announced, it’s fun to think about who he’d pick or want to win if he were alive today”

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