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Jay Wexler: Supreme March Madness: The SCOTUS Pool

Today's post is from law professor and humorist Jay Wexler, author of the forthcoming Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars. He studied religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and law at Stanford, and worked as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Wexler teaches at the Boston University School of Law, and he blogs at, where this post originally appeared.

Book cover for Holy Hullabaloos links to Beacon Press page for bookSo, I thought I'd say a few words here about March Madness, because what else is there really to talk about in March other than March Madness? Can you imagine how crappy the month of March would be if it weren't for March Madness? All these way-too-cold days with no days off anywhere or holidays to break up the monotony? Anyway, I've been a fan of college basketball since I was a kid. Not a huge madman like fan or anything, but generally a fan. As a kid I rooted for BC, since they were the only real player on the college basketball scene, but when I went to law school, I went to a bunch of Stanford games and became a much bigger Stanford fan than a BC fan. I was even at the game in February of 1995 when the Stanford Tree got into an actual, not kidding around fight with Oski the Bear, the Cal mascot, right there on the court in Maples Pavilion. Karen and I were in the stands close to where the struggle took place, and a cop came by and asked the fans in our section if we had seen which mascot had started the fight. It was Oski, that piece of crap.

I don't really know if it was Oski, just in case someone was thinking of bringing a libel suit.

In the past, like everyone, I participated in various March Madness pools. I've never done well. I'm looking right now at the result sheet for the pool that the Chief Justice ran at the Supreme Court in March of 1999. That's right, if anyone ever sneers and asks you if these pools are illegal, just tell them that Chief Justice Rehnquist used to run a pool at the Supreme Court every year, and that should shut them up. I came in sixth to last in this particular pool (the sheet I have, which you can view here, doesn't include the final game results), which was two positions higher than Justice Breyer and about five behind Rehnquist.

Recently, though, I decided not to join any more pools unless the buy in and possible winnings are so high that they would justify paying attention only to the pool and not to who I actually want to win. The problem with your typical small stakes pool is that it splits your loyalties. You want to root for the underdog #13 against the #4 team when the game is tied with 42 seconds left, but you've picked that particular #4 team to make the Sweet Sixteen in your pool, so you can't really put all your emotional energy into rooting for Cornell or whoever. It's just not worth it for the possibility of winning $278.

I should admit that this year, with no Stanford and BC out in the first round and the BU hockey team being the best hockey team in the country, I've paid very little attention to the basketball tournament. Instead I watched the Hockey East semifinal and final games for the first time ever, and I've also printed out the brackets for the Frozen Four tournament. Go Terriers, crush the Buckeyes on Saturday. Whoo hoo.

Does anyone know why they don't sell BU foam fingers anywhere?

If you enjoyed this post, you should really check out Jay Wexler's blog, where he recently posted memories of clerking for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (you can read the installments here, here, here, and here.)