You may be seeing a lot of Gregg Nigl when the NCAA’s Sweet 16 starts up Thursday night.
Nigl, a 40-year-old neuropsychologist from Columbus, Ohio, has become the Chuck Yeager of the bracket, soaring ever faster into the record books. A Michigan fan, Nigl became the first person on record to have a perfect bracket leading into the Sweet 16. Forty-eight picks down, 15 to go.
A Saginaw, Mich., native, Nigl and his son will be in the house in Anaheim, Calif., when the Wolverines face Texas Tech, thanks to one of the tournament’s sponsors. “We think someone who had picked the perfect bracket should be able to see that unfold firsthand,” Buick said in a statement this week.
News of Nigl’s accomplishment reached the family as it drove to the Northeast this week for spring break, and landed him on the “Today” show. Nigl is 15 wins away from having the first recorded perfect bracket in the history of the tournament. His entry, dubbed “Center Road” in the NCAA’s bracket challenge, is pretty chalky (as has been the tournament), and he stuck with the eight higher-seeded teams to win this week, which would create the first Elite Eight consisting entirely of No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. His Final Four consists of top seeds Duke, Gonzaga, Virginia, plus No. 2 seed Kentucky (beating No. 1 seed North Carolina), with Gonzaga beating Kentucky, 77-71, in the April 8 championship game.
If there’s any trick to this, maybe it’s in not paying too much attention to your bracket. Because Nigl, as it turns out, filled out more than one bracket, but spent less time on his flawless version.
“The one that I’m perfect in was the one that I wasn’t really checking, because it was just amongst just a few friends. And honestly, I don’t even know if my other friends filled one out,” he told NCAA.com. “I might be the only one in the group who filled one out, I don’t know.
“But yeah, I did four. And I almost didn’t fill that one out, because I was actually sick on Thursday, and I filled it out Thursday morning, right before the deadline, and I almost didn’t do it. I was lying in bed, I was sick, and I called into work. I almost went back to bed and didn’t fill it out, but I did it anyway because I felt bad because it was my friend’s [group].”
At some point, though, Nigl, like many fans, faces the prospect of rooting against his own bracket. He has his Wolverines beating Texas Tech on Thursday and then losing to Gonzaga.
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