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Seven habits of highly effective tourney watchers

Special to Page 2

What is true victory in the NCAA Tournament? Finding ways around your job to immerse yourself in the TV bonanza that is the first round of the Big Dance.

Bryce Drew
What do you remember more: Bryce Drew's game-winner for Valpo or that 1998 memo from the boss?
Your problem: how to follow the action between noon and 5 p.m. ET (9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the West Coast) when you are supposed to be working?

Your solution: these seven simple strategies. Use them alone or cleverly combine them!

The Suck-up Strategy
The Plan: Help your boss fill out his/her office pool sheet.

Pros: Sympathy; shared vested interest in Tourney outcomes.

Cons: Only as good as your picks. Screw up the first day, and you'll find yourself working all weekend.

Satisfaction Rating: Three TVs (out of five), but four if your boss splits any winnings with you.

The Pass-the-Baton System
The Plan: Rotate bathroom and lunch breaks with your equally rabid rimhead co-workers.

Pros: Divide and conquer; less chance of being busted.

Cons: You could get stuck with the blowout endings, while your cubicle mate gets the buzzer-beaters. No fun to hear about them second-hand.

Satisfaction Rating: Three TVs, if you can manipulate your way into watching the marquee games yourself, leaving the dregs to your pals.

The Alt-Tab Gambit
The Plan: Load up your desktop with lots of impressive-looking spreadsheets. When your boss comes around, hit Alt-Tab to move from the scoreboard to your "work."

Pros: You'll look incredibly industrious to your boss, while actually spending your day constantly refreshing the scoreboard page.

Cons: Accidentally hitting Ctrl-Alt-Delete will shut down your computer. Forget losing your work; you might miss a critical score update. Plus, you've got to cross your fingers that the boss doesn't ask you to interpret the spreadsheets.

Satisfaction Rating: Four TVs, but you have to be happy with score updates alone.

The Rhythm Method
The Plan: When the games get down to the final minutes, rush out to the nearest sports bar, regardless of what's on your work plate.

Pros: You'll never miss a great finish, conceding the first half in favor of last-minute glory.

Cons: Sprinting to and from the office every two hours might raise suspicion from your supervisor.

Satisfaction Rating: Four TVs, because you will be able to say you saw that classic ending. Do you remember that memo in '98 or Bryce Drew?

The Like-When-We-Were-Kids Technique
The Plan: What was the best way to avoid school when you were a kid? Feign sickness.

Pros: You won't miss a minute.

Cons: Must start showing symptoms as early as Monday for full benefits later in the week; might waste a sick day you could very well need down the road (but March Madness is a kind of sickness, isn't it?). If you haven't started preparing for this one yet, you're probably screwed.

Satisfaction Rating: Five TVs; who needs a sick day?

The T-1 Play
The Plan: It's not just scoreboard-refreshing anymore. Take advantage of that fast office Internet connection! Try launching four simultaneous games in Real Audio, or's TourneyTracker and ScorePost for constantly updated stats.

Pros: Local radio calls are much cooler than national TV; you get to control what game you are listening to.

Cons: More than slightly obvious when your desktop is crowded with Internet audio players and screens full of stats; must use in conjunction with "Alt-Tab" strategy.

Satisfaction Rating: Only two TVs, but it's better than nothing.

The Plan: If you live in the right area of the country, there's always a chance that it'll snow and you'll be "stuck" at home all day. Ask your favorite deity for help Wednesday night.

Pros: Won't waste a sick day; no one's the wiser that you're one sick hoops junkie.

Cons: To be brutally honest, this method's as unreliable as your office-pool picks. But, in the absence of anything better, it's worth a shot.

Satisfaction Rating: All or nothing: zero TVs if it doesn't work, five out of five if it does!

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