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Madness 'coming' to an end
Tourney concludes in Atlanta this weekend
Sally Rohloff updates a basketball bracket at the Peachtree Parkway branch of Community Business Bank. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Jill Nanney is not a basketball fan. Still, she has her own strategy for choosing the winners in her office’s NCAA tournament pool every year.

“I send through the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds [in the first round],” she said. “But every game after that I flip a coin. I did really well early on this year.”

The annual tournament, which concludes this weekend in Atlanta with the Final Four and championship game, captures the imaginations of millions nationwide each year.

“This is the only time I follow basketball,” said Nanney, who has fun despite having never won the bracket challenge at the Peachtree Parkway branch of Community Business Bank. “We have a good time checking scores each day and seeing who’s in the lead.”

Whether a morale booster or unwelcome distraction, it appears many other local businesses may have foregone office pools this year.

This week the Forsyth County News contacted dozens of local merchants, ranging from pawn shops to fitness centers. Some said they have never held a bracket challenge, while others said they do them for football or baseball.

Many said they had organized ones in years past, but interest had waned this year — even with the last three games being played 60 miles away.

Ann Crow, owner of Matrix Inc., said she’s really the only college basketball fan in the office.

“Football is king down here in the SEC,” she said. “So I think there would be a lot more interest if the SEC teams were stronger ... especially if it was a team [from Georgia involved] … there would be a lot more interest.”

While Bruce Longmore’s Lenny’s sandwich shop doesn’t have an office pool, the eatery is holding the Sammy Champ.

The internal bracket’s features different sandwiches from the menu pitted against each other, with the grilled chicken philly and Italian sandwiches among those reaching the final four.

“We just look to try to dovetail off current events and the brackets were a perfect way for us to do it,” he said. “I think everybody’s got a favorite team, or they’ve got a passion for a certain school, and so everyone can identify with the tournament, because a small part of them is part of the tournament.”

Filling out a bracket is a longstanding tradition for Jacob Otwell, who’s one of about 10 employees in Andean Chevrolet’s pool.

“We always did them in college and in high school growing up,” he said. “It’s so hard and there are so many upsets and Cinderella teams, it just makes it fun.”

Otwell has Louisville claiming the championship, so “I’ve got a chance of winning.”

“It just adds a little fun to the office and it takes the pressure off of work,” he said.

The unpredictable nature of the tournament, which annually features many upsets, adds to the fun.

Sally Rohloff’s picks at the bank were designed to give the underdogs a chance.

“[It’s] a fun way of scoring,” she said. “You get points per round plus what seed the team is that wins. So by picking the underdog, you get more points.”

In the end, however, it’s “more for bragging rights … then we move on.”