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March Madness: we have a winner!

With only five votes separating victory from grim defeat, the sport expression that has claimed the championship title in the Oxford Dictionaries Bracket Challenge is: butterfingers.

The champ

Who would have guessed that clumsiness would be a winning trait in a sports competition? This slightly ironic turn of events might be deemed less so if we consider the whimsical nature of language and wordplay, where contradictions in meaning, puns, and nonce words gather more favor than their semantically and morphologically straightforward counterparts. The game of cricket certainly does not lack for flavor: howzat and googly belong squarely alongside the deserving butterfingers.

The also-ran

What more can be said about saved by the bell other than it was an admirable challenger and a fighter to the end? As boxing takes a graceful runner-up bow, we salute the many idioms and turns of phrase introduced by the sport, including down for the count, hit below the belt, roll with the punches, and early bracket exit rough and tumble.

And so, as we say our final goodbyes to the madness in March, we also bid farewell to the 2012 Bracket Challenge and bracketology—a fascinating example of systematic unpredictability. Until next year, sports fans!

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