ESPN ‘Rats’ On NCAA Men’s Results

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ratHow will the UConn men’s team do as it  begins the NCAA tournament bracket climb Thursday?

Ask the rats.

At the time of year when basketball enthusiasts throw into the “pools” weighing Las Vega odds, President Barack Obama’s opinion or a host of other non-scientific forecasts to hedge their bets, ESPN, the Bristol-based mighty master of sports, offers a rodent –fueled showdown when it comes to the sport of tournament prophecies. They call it “The Rat Bracket.”

“We were bouncing some ideas around about the unpredictability and craziness of a bracket, and how it also looks like a maze,” said ESPN marketing manager Won Kim. “Then we landed on a ‘Eureka’ moment of, how about small animals in a bracket maze,” he said. “We went with dwarf rats, and the name “Rat Bracket” was born.”

For those of you who are UCONN fans, spoiler alert. The designated UConn rat, named “Peace Pact,” ran enough successful races to bring UConn to the Sweet Sixteen but lost to “Arcade” representing Iowa State.

Now back to the rest of the story.

ESPN hooked up with an Emmett Street warehouse owned by RGD Tech and contacted Brittany Golas, president of the United Rat Club in King of Prussia, Pa, to arrange for 32 dwarf rats to come to Connecticut for an overnight getaway and the maze race in Bristol.

The large-scale maze was built by Deary Construction in Brooklyn, and then transported to the Connecticut warehouse where it was assembled.

The 32 rats “rehearsed” two-by-two in timed heats Sunday night so organizers could pair the faster rats with the better teams and the slower rats, well you get the idea.

Golas made fleece sweatshirts for the rats and ESPN added college-colored identifying logos to the rodent-sized tops to give the whole event a collegiate look.

GoPro cameras were positioned at 16 locations along the maze offering “rat-level” shots of the racing rodents while an overhead GoPro camera offered an overhead view.

So while we know how UCONN fared in the “Rat Bracket,” ESPN is being tight-lipped as to who won the whole shebang offering this suggestion instead, see for yourself  here beginning Wednesday.

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