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posted: 3/17/2014 5:30 AM

A billion reasons to get excited for the tournament

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  • Coaches Tom Izzo, left, of Michigan State and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin are going to help Mike Imrem win a billion dollars, as the story goes.

    Coaches Tom Izzo, left, of Michigan State and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin are going to help Mike Imrem win a billion dollars, as the story goes.
    Associated Press


For anyone intending to enter the NCAA Tournament contest offering a billion bucks …


I don't want to share my inevitable winnings.

If you haven't heard, Quicken Loans came up with the Billion$Bracket: $1 billion for picking every game of the tourney correctly.

Berkshire Hathaway mogul Warren Buffett insured the prize in the event of perfection. Meeting him will be a treat when I win.

So, really, don't waste your time by entering. The prize must be mine, all mine. The odds are 1 in 9 quintillion, and I'm the one.

I'm a sports expert, you know? Who do you think helped Buffett become one of the world's wealthiest persons? I told him nobody lost money betting against the Cubs and he went from there.

Soon, Buffett became known as the Oracle of Omaha.

(Another family from Omaha, the Ricketts, ignored my advice. They purchased the Cubs, and look at the mess they have received for their money.)

A perfect NCAA Tournament sheet? Heck, most years I lost the first game of the first day by 3 touchdowns.

But that was different. Only pride was at stake, which in my case is worth about a stick of chewing gum.

For $1 billion I can become awfully intelligent: Maybe not applied-linear-algebra intelligent but certainly double-dribble intelligent.

I have put my mind to this year's bracket, and the toughest choice will be whether to take $25 million for each of 40 years or one payment of $500 million.

Easier was budgeting how to spend the dough.

For starters I will buy the biggest boat, biggest house and biggest boathouse.

I'll pay Bill Gates to design my personal website, Oprah Winfrey to read the book of the month to me, and Tony Stewart to chauffeur me to the 7-Eleven for Slurpees.

Oh, you ask, what about taking care of family?

I'll have them all over for pizza, give them each a box of Legos, and then move to a new address in the south of France so they can't find me.

Seriously, since none of you are going to challenge me in this contest I'll give you a tip.

Don't pick Illinois to win a game, or Northwestern, UIC, Loyola, Chicago State, NIU or any Chicago Public League team certain to forfeit its first victory.

I'm going to move up to 2-ply bathroom tissue, at least one premium cable channel and dinner at dinnertime instead of the early-bird special.

I'll also hire a battalion of maids, butlers and bottle washers and instruct them to let me sleep in on Sundays -- on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, too. To say nothing of Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Oh, you ask, what about taking care of friends?

To paraphrase Mike Royko, I'll gather them all at a neighborhood tavern, buy them a round of domestic beer, throw in a hard-boiled egg apiece, and say, "Have a good life, folks, I'm out of here."

For the record, the Final Four will consist of Wisconsin, Louisville, Michigan State and Kansas.

As for the championship game, I don't trust you enough to give you the winner. However, one clue: Its initials are MSU.

I'm going to customize an American-made SUV with automatic transmission, remote locks and power cup holders.

I'll also get one of those newfangled cars that park themselves, a box of steaks that cook themselves and a backscratcher that scratches itself.

Oh, you ask, what about donating to charity?

Sure, I'll throw some change into a Salvation Army kettle, buy a couple of boxes of Girl Scout cookies and haul all my old neckties to Goodwill.

In a recent radio interview, Buffett said about money that enough is enormously important but more than that not so much.

A billion dollars just might be enough for me.

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