Roy Exum: 92 With 17 Zeros Behind It

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The key to the whole thing is to have fun -- don’t stick me among the naysayers or the critics when it comes to picking the NCAA basketball bracket. When the 68 teams that will compete in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships were chosen Sunday night, I was quick to jump in among literally millions of people like me and immediately began trying to predict the outcome.

For the record, it has never been done in a documented way but if you were to defy the staggering odds of one-in-9.2 quintillion (that’s 92 with 17 zeros behind it), Warren Buffet wants to give you $1 billion dollars. Are you kidding me? The deal is the first 15 million who want to play have until 1 a.m. Wednesday to go online at Yahoo.com and, after you register for the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, fill out your best guesses.

It doesn’t cost a penny to play but there’s a catch; Quicken Loans, the fourth largest home mortgage lender in country, will have your name and email address after you register. That’s what they get for putting up $1 billion in prize money. And if they begin to bug you months from now, that’s what the “spam” key is for on your computer. C’mon, this is fun.

The easy way to pick a bracket is “the chalk method,” where you simply take the lower seed in each game. Last year PunditTracker.com got 32 of the top college basketball writers to fill out brackets and only 12 would have earned more than “chalk” bettors in Las Vegas.

“Bracketology” is much more fun. That where you study the two teams, look at strength-of-schedule and then factor in such totally unseen variables like Kentucky’s James Young slipping as he drives the lane, which gave Florida that one point win in the SEC finals Sunday afternoon.

Listen to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi: “I’ve got three words for that: can’t be done. Warren Buffett didn’t get to be Warren Buffett by betting $1 billion that he thinks he’s actually going to lose.”

And Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway netting $19.5 billion last year, is having great fun with the Challenge. He won’t say what the insurance policy cost but already the publicity is worth it. ESPN’s Rick Reilly talked to “The Oracle of Omaha” not long ago and revealed when Buffett’s kids were young, he would give them their allowance in dimes. That was because he had a 10-cent slot machine in the back of his house and knew he’d get most of his money back that very night.

Reilly asked Buffett a great question – what if one fan got all the way to the final game with a perfect card? Would Warren try to buy him out before the tipoff? “Well, I'm not sure Quicken would let me do that," he told the columnist with a healthy laugh

"But if it were me, I'd definitely offer a deal. ... Mathematically, it should be half of the $500 million -- $250 million. But it's all relative. If I offered you $100 million to call off the bet, I bet you'd take it. Because $100 million to you is about the same as $250 million. But $100 million versus zero? That sounds a lot worse."

Buffett is more worried that somebody will try to cheat. “There are two big risks in this," Buffett told Reilly. "One, somebody does it. Two, somebody tries to screw us."

For a billion dollars it isn’t hard to imagine a team of hackers changing brackets, or launching an inside job. But it just so happens the largest stock holder of IBM is Berkshire Hathaway so Buffett has the computer giant hired to make sure nothing happens. Then again, he told Reilly, “If some guy from IBM wins, I'll be a little suspicious."

 * * *

For the record, I picked Louisville, the No. 4 seed in the Midwest, to win the tournament on April 7 in Texas. I think the Cardinals are the hottest team in college basketball right now and that they will beat Kansas in the finals. My other Final Four teams are Virginia and Arizona.

royexum@aol.com



Joe Smith Will Make An Incredible Difference

While now in retirement several hundred miles from Chattanooga, I was still quite excited to hear that my friend and colleague of many years, Joe Smith, had decided to run for the District 3 seat on the Hamilton County Commission. What an incredible difference he will make as he serves your community.  For a number of years I served in a counseling position at McCallie School. ... (click for more)

Run, Gerald McCormick, Run For Mayor

Run, Gerald McCormick, run for mayor!  That was the best news I have read all week.  Save my hometown from grossly failing circus tent policies that are not renewing the inner cities, infrastructure, and reduce the long term bond debt of Chattanooga leveraged against the tax base of about $900 million.  The huge circus tent on Lindsay Street is in need of ... (click for more)

City To Begin Shipping Much Of Its Garbage To Bradley County

City Public Works Administrator Justin Holland said the city plans to begin shipping much of its garbage to Bradley County. He said the deal is projected to extend the life of the city landfill at Birchwood by 15 years. Mr. Holland said Bradley County "has a huge landfill and takes garbage from Knoxville and other municipalities. It's regional." He said Bradley County charges ... (click for more)

Man Says He Did Nothing To Provoke Shooting At Bakewell Gas Station; Suspect Says Victim Was Coming Toward Him

A 33-year-old man who was shot in the face during a clash at a Bakewell gas station said he did nothing to provoke the shooting. The man charged said the victim cursed him, then started toward him. General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck, after a hearing on Tuesday, bound to the Grand Jury a charge of attempted first-degree murder against Donald Stuard II, 29, of Old Washington ... (click for more)

Smart Running: Vradenburgh, Boyd Win Again

There’s a lesson to be learned for those young folks who choose cross country as their sport in the fall:  It’s impossible to win a race in the first mile, but you can surely lose one in that same space. As anyone with much running experience can verify, the fastest person doesn’t always win.  Running smart and using a tactical approach with planned pacing often produces ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Wins 7-AA After Beating Notre Dame

The Signal Mountain Lady Eagles took care of business at home Tuesday night as they swept visiting Notre Dame by scores of 25-15, 25-19 and 25-19 to claim first place in District 7-AA with a 10-0 district mark and 30-8 overall. Audrie Johnson had 11 kills while Kate Barry added 17 digs and 11 assists.  Nicole Terfloth finished with 18 digs and three aces for the winners ... (click for more)