Bracketology Can Change Your Life

Bill Geist's love song bracket CBS

Sunday Morning correspondent Bill Geist discovered that using brackets can narrow down all sorts of choices. It's actually a very useful decision-making tool beyond navigating college basketball matchups.


During March Madness, all the talk is about "brackets," which are really the structural backbone of the NCAA basketball tournament — not to mention thousands of office pools. Brackets determine who plays who, when, where, and why. It's all mulled over in excruciating detail in the inexact science of "bracketology."

And there's a new book that says the science of bracketology applies to a lot more than just basketball.

Richard Sandomir is co-editor of "The Enlightened Bracketologist," which he says is really just a "clean, concise way to make decisions."

"It's better than a Top-10 list," he said. "If you make a list of your vacation spots you want to go on, or the names you want to name your baby, or the universities that your child might be going to, if you put one against the other, then your choice is definitely improved."

Richard Sandomir on being "Geisted"
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The subtitle is "The Final Four of Everything" — and they do mean everything. Writers bracket 101 subjects from best beer to best bald guys. [Sandomir, who has a shaved head, did the bald guys bracket himself.]

"If you really want to know who the Best Bald Guys are, you're gonna have to figure out who's a better bald guy: Andre Agassi or Benito Mussolini," Sandomir said. "It's very tough! Yul Brynner and Telly Savalas in the first round; We have Curly Howard, one of the Three Stooges, who after beating Tupac Shakur in the first round, has to go up against Mahatma Gandhi. Tough."

Competition in these brackets is keen and quite odd. The final game is Gandhi vs. Homer Simpson. In the end, Gandhi wins.

"It makes up for the fact he didn't win the Nobel Peace Prize," Sandomir said.

Best Film Deaths is a hotly contested bracket: Sonny Corleone's untimely demise in "The Godfather" goes up against Darth Vader striking down Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars."

"And then, you know, Bambi's mom getting shot by hunters versus the Titanic sinking and (Leonardo Di) Caprio freezing to death," Sandomir said. "You know, that's a tough matchup."

In the final match, two classics battle to the death: "Bonnie and Clyde" goes up against "Psycho" — and "Psycho" wins.

There's even a competition for Best Shakespearean Insults: "Thou crusty botch of nature" goes up against "Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson, obscene, greasy, tallow-catch." And "There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune" vs. "Thou wouldst eat thy dead vomit up, and howl'st to find it."

Wow! I thought Shakespeare was all "To be or not to be." "Vomit" wins! In an upset.
  • Caitlin Johnson

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