March is Madness. And there's no one better in the SB Nation network than capturing that madness in a bottle and making some sense out it than Chris Dobbertean, who runs the college basketball site Blogging the Bracket. This is Dobbertean's time of year with the brackets in full swing and people all over the country pulling their hair out over the upsets.
So without further ado, let's get to know Chris Dobbertean.
Tyler Bleszinski: Tell me about how you came to be involved at SB Nation.
Chris Dobbertean: I blame Twitter for everything! My friend Mario Rubio, who runs Brewed for Thought, a brewing blog, and I typically kick around a lot of ideas about making our blogs better and getting more readers. One day in the fall of 2008, not long after I set up BracketDobber.net, he suggested that I tweet about what I was watching throughout the season. Peter Bean started following me and approached me about coming aboard in January of 2009. Chris Haines and the Tech team got the site up and running just in time for last season's edition of Championship Week.
Bleszinski: This is really your time of year. How has the tournament been for you thus far?
Dobbertean: Even though my two favorite teams, Florida and Syracuse, are both now out, this is the most exciting Tournament I can recall, and the most fun I've had watching. The first weekend was simply the best ever, and the Thursday of the First Round will always be a day I look back upon with fondness. It simply had a little bit of everything that makes the Tournament great: buzzer beaters, upsets, close calls, overtimes.
Bleszinski: Your site is pretty specific to a certain time of year. Do you find that tough or daunting?
Dobbertean: It can be a bit difficult, honestly. College basketball is a tough sport to blog about in the first place because casual fans only seem to care about the month of March. So, I try to cater to more hardcore fans to an extent, particularly during the offseason. That's when I focus on what's coming up in the next season. I spend a little bit of time each evening looking for interesting scheduling nuggets and early season tournament information. The Thanksgiving to New Year's window is my second favorite time of year because much of what happens over this month is a result of how teams test themselves then.
Bleszinski: How are you doing in your personal brackets?
Dobbertean: I'm doing a bit better than I've done over the past few years, but since I picked Kansas as my national champ, that won't last. Syracuse losing last night didn't help matters, as I had them in the Final Four as well.
But that's the last you'll hear me talking about my picks, however. This year, more than any other in recent memory, I've become annoyed with people complaining about their brackets, taking it too seriously. I think some people let their picks destroy their enjoyment of the three best weeks of the year.
Bleszinski: How strange has this year been and who are your favorites at this point?
Dobbertean: We seem to be entering a phase in college basketball season where we're going to encounter a season like this every so often, thanks to scholarship limits and the odious "one and done" rule. On the surface, this Tournament reminds me a lot of 2006 and 2002 in terms of the number of upsets. Maybe we're just destined to have Tournaments like this one in Winter Olympic/World Cup years!
As for a favorite, I have to go with Kentucky at this point. No one is playing quite as well as they are.
Bleszinski: Have you always been a big college basketball fan?
Dobbertean: I remember that my parents bought me one of those "Dunk It" mini-basketball sets when I was about five, not long after we moved to Florida from Upstate New York. They put it in the garage, and I used chalk to make it look like The Pit in Albuquerque. That was before most kids in my neighborhood could write. So, yeah, I can't accurately say that I've "always" been a college hoops fan, but it's pretty close.
Bleszinski: Is it a challenge to build a community around the concept of the bracket as opposed to a team or even a sport?
Dobbertean: It is a bit of a challenge, but the inevitable controversies that surround the bracket, whether it's the last few teams in, seeding, or expansion, helps create conversation and gets people thinking.
Bleszinski: What do you try to accomplish to get more community around Blogging the Bracket?
Dobbertean: The first, which I mentioned previously, is by serving as a source of information about the season as a whole. Scheduling is going to be a big focus for me this offseason because it's something that's not easy to keep track of, and as a fan, it's frustrated me in the past. I want to hear more about what fans are looking forward to with the new season and what they wish would be done differently.
Secondly, I like to use my projections to get people thinking and talking, particularly outside of Championship Week, as there are still plenty of games to be played and room for disagreement and debate. I like to hear what other fans think about their teams' chances relative to others, particularly if they are at the bottom of the at-large pool.
Bleszinski: You also write some for SBNation.com. Do you change your tone or do anything different based on that audience?
Dobbertean: I tend to take the same approach to writing for Blogging The Bracket and SBNation.com, but I may try to be a little less serious over at the mothership on occasion. My overall goals when writing are to drop some knowledge on my readers, give them a look at a topic from a completely different perspective, and to make them think.
Bleszinski: Tell me something about yourself that might surprise your readers.
Dobbertean: I took part in the 1993 Jeopardy! Teen Tournament, back when I was in high school. I flew all the way out to California to get crushed on national TV.
Bleszinski: Thanks so much for your time and being a part of SB Nation.
Dobbertean: Thank you, Tyler. I'm very proud to be a part of the best network of sports blogs in the world!