Move over Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Paker. Now the entire nation shares your one-and-done pain and knows what a funny, fleeting thing the NCAA Tournament can be.

 

After four furious days of March Madness, the only thing we know with certainty is that the gutty, gritty, plucky Stanford Cardinal are the greatest basketball team ever assembled (perhaps this writer is being less than objective here).

 

As is always the case with the Big Dance, however, while the on-court action is kind of cute, all we really care about are the brackets. This year, Warren Buffett introduced us to another ‘b’ word, teaming up with Quicken Loans to create the “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.” The premise was simple: pick a perfect bracket, win a billion dollars.

 

Not surprisingly, a lot of people liked this idea, even less surprisingly, every single person who entered the contest was eliminated from the billion-dollar contention by the evening of Friday, Mar. 21.  This is the sort of thing that happens when your chances of winning a cool Billion are 1 in 9.2 quintillion, which is a billion times a billion. The odds of winning the lottery, by contrast, are 1 in 175 million.

 

The “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge” received overwhelmingly favorable publicity, with Buffett lending his typical congeniality and disarming humility to the campaign. Most of us do not get to talk about billions very often, and there is something inherently whimsical about the richest man in America dangling the carrot of the biggest cash payout ever. It was clever. It was fun. But it also felt really empty and contrived.

 

I guess I just wanted Buffett to devise something that was a little more creative, and a little more, you know, real. Buffett is the ultimate handicapper of life, yet he gave us a promotion that is totally devoid of thought and substance. What is the point in issuing a challenge that is statistically impossible and only exists in the hypothetical? No one will ever predict a perfect bracket. The (un)likelihood of it happening is simply foolish to comprehend.

 

If the only goal was to give us a collective chuckle, then Buffett succeeded. But isn’t the real beauty of being Buffett that you can do so much more? I can not help but feel that Buffett squandered an opportunity to give us a genuine sense of what it feels like to have vast sums of money truly within our grasp, to force us to choose wisely and to employ a strategy, and to good-naturedly bemoan what might have been. In other words, to be like Warren Buffett.

 

The consolation prize is that Buffett says the “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge” will be back – with some modifications – next year. Let us hope he learns from this experience and actually give the underdog a legitimate shot to win. Isn’t that what March Madness is all about?

 

What are your thoughts about Warren Buffett’s “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge?”  Share your thoughts via the comment section below or tweet me @endbadly.