Can dog be the next Paul the Octopus?

8 Apr

Daisy attempts to replicate the success of Paul the Octopus / Charles Vanegas

Every year, millions of people across North America – including U.S. president Barack Obama – fill out their brackets for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. The tournament begins with 64 teams (not including the additional play-in games that determine the last couple of spots), and you pick winners for each round, including the championship game – before the first game is played. Picking your bracket is an inexact science, but the winner of the office pool always seems to be the person who knows absolutely nothing about sports, let alone college basketball.

In 2007, I correctly predicted that Florida would top Ohio State in the championship game (which wasn’t overly insightful, as both were top seeded teams with clear NBA prospects on their rosters) but admittedly, most years my brackets are mediocre at best.

Paul the Octopus was 8-0 during the 2010 FIFA World Cup / Jeff Swicord

You might remember Paul, an octopus from the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, who made predictions during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Paul’s handlers would present him with two plastic boxes filled with mussels – one adorned with the flag of Germany, one with their opponent’s. Paul correctly chose the winner in all seven of Germany’s games – including their semi-final loss to Spain – as well as choosing Spain to beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final.

I wondered if animals could also be successful in determining winners during March Madness. Unfortunately, Paul the Octopus died last year, so I needed to find another opponent from the animal kingdom. I looked no further than my two furry friends at home – Daisy, a Shih Tzu/Pekingese/Pomeranian mix (in case you were wondering), and Cat, a cat we found on Kijiji, who hangs out in the closet most of the day. Much like Paul, Daisy and Cat are motivated by food. I set up dishes with an equal amount of food, and their pick was determined by whichever one they ate from first.

Daisy completed her entire bracket using this method. Unfortunately, after only making her picks for half of the first round, Cat vomited on the rug. She was thus eliminated from the competition.

Daisy’s Bracket:

My Bracket:

The competition was close. Daisy chose Kentucky, a fourth-seed, to win it all. I, on the other hand, picked top-seeded Ohio State.

Here are the final results:

Obviously, neither of us did very well, only scoring 57 and 54 points out of a possible 192. It turns out dogs are just as bad at predicting March Madness as the rest of us. However, we weren’t far from Obama’s 65 points (thanks to his immaculate 29/32 first round), and Daisy does deserve credit for having her team reach the final four.

So for anyone else who’s embarrassed by the mediocrity of their 2011 NCAA bracket, just be thankful that Paul the Octopus isn’t around to make you look worse.


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