Snow melting odds: a March Madness alternative

March Melting

It’s that time of year for me to lose another five bucks on a sport that I pay little attention to yet am socially obligated to follow for three weeks in March and April. To me, March Madness is always the same. Of course there are occasional surprising upsets, and some years are crazier than others, but in the end, the fan bases of sixty-seven teams go home disappointed. The whole charade is like a night at Colosseum: I pretend to have fun until reality strikes and I realize I’ve immersed myself in the lives of dozens of sweaty dudes.

This apathy has taken a toll on my brackets. Instead of looking at teams’ styles of play, strengths of schedule, and common opponents, I find myself simply taking my anger out at the teams that disappointed me the year before (fuck you, Villanova).

I will be boycotting March Madness this year. It’s overhyped and I’m terrible at it. We need another March/April-specific alternative to lose money on.

My eureka moment came during a drunken argument simple inquiry while walking through the main green: “Which snow mound will be the last to melt on campus?” No need for 67 games; just countless piles of ice, salt, and dirt in a war of attrition against the sun.

I am overjoyed to present the first annual March Melting. Here are some previews to get you oriented:

The Prestigious: The pile on Wriston QuadIMG_4949

Strengths: Good balance of dirt and salt, sheltered from wind and afternoon sun.

Weaknesses: Heavy weekend traffic of drunk college kids could pose a hazard.

March Madness Equivalent: Duke

Few piles can stand up to the prestige of the one on Wriston. Made up of snow from all around Wayland Arch, the mound has been a consistent presence this season, from the snowball fights and tackle football of the first snowstorm, to the sweltering 50-degree heat of March 12th.

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An Amateur’s Guide to March Madness

brackets
March Madness is an exciting time for me–a time of blind allegiance and savvy ignorance. Everyone in my close circle either plays basketball or knows more about it than I do. The extent of my basketball experience begins and ends with the Yellow Jackets, my quite defeated 1st grade school basketball team. And my basketball fame begins and ends with that free throw I may or may not have made that one night I vaguely remember. If the past is a story we tell ourselves (thank you, Spike Jonze), I obviously recall this as a golden moment of unrealized 4 ft-high potential.

What is one to do, then, when March Madness rolls around and you feel woefully left out? I suppose one could a) not care, b) care a lot and construct a winning bracket, or c) remain suspended with me in this in-between, desiring to be accepted for the basketball fan that I truly am and yet always excluded from the party, like Benji Applebaum from Pitch Perfect who will never be a Trebblemaker (you’re too good for them, Benji!).

I’m too competitive to create a bracket that obviously won’t win, though I briefly imagine myself picking teams at random and shocking my friends. “Oh, you didn’t expect Mercer to beat Duke? I know you didn’t. Next year, though.”

Instead, I have constructed a guide for those hoping to participate but who have little basketball knowledge to go on (I studied basketball terminology, the Spurs roster, and LeBron’s stats to up my cool factor for last summer’s NBA playoffs). Here is a new way to approach how to decide on a winning team:

North Carolina or Iowa State?
Do I know what a Tar Heel is?: No vs. no
Is baby blue a masculine color?: No vs. I see you, Columbia
Who has the better smile?Bubu Palo vs. Jackson Simmons
Badass coach?: Roy Williams (UNC) or Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State)?
Winner: Iowa State
Methodology: Underdog

Wichita State or Kentucky?
Which colors do I fancy more (or less)?: Black and yellow (Wichita St.) vs. White and blue (Kentucky)
Where could I spend the day?: Wichita, KS vs. Lexington, KY
Who is taller?: Wichita’s tallest is 6-9 vs. Kentucky’s at 7-0
Winner: Kentucky
Methodology: When playing Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?, I told myself I would visit Kentucky one day. Lovely statehouse.

Texas or Michigan?
Location, location, location: Austin, TX vs. Ann Arbor, MI
Do I wear burnt orange well?: Maybe vs. no
Am I Austin weird?: Yes vs. I like to think so
Which coach is more intimidating?: John Beilein (Michigan) vs. Rick Barnes (Texas)
Winner: Texas
Methodology: I’m from Houston…fixed election.

Arizona or Gonzaga?
Colors: They’re both white with red and blue (NOW we have to get nitpicky)
Whose athletics page clearly employed a web designer?: Arizona vs. Gonzaga
Do I appreciate Dustin Triano‘s pseudo-mullet?: You do you, kid vs. no
Who has the better name?: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona) vs. Rem Bakamus (Gonzaga)
Winner: Gonzaga
Methodology: The mullet pulled ahead in the last second

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Bracket Bonanza: Rapid reaction

The true Ark of the Covenant

The true Ark of the Covenant

It’s here. It’s finally here. A half-month of lost productivity, illegal betting, and Cinderella stories starts now. Check out BlogDailyHerald’s predictions below.

Midwest Region

The shoo-ins: Not many potential first-round upsets here. Both Middle Tennessee and St. Mary’s are pretty dangerous for First Four teams, so they might give Memphis a run for their money, but I’m going all top seeds in the first round. Don’t listen to any talk about Valparaiso as a potential Cinderella, Tom Izzo has the Spartans way too well-prepared—he always does—for them to lose so early.

The upsets: Creighton over Duke, second round. I’m sorry, I can’t help but root against Coach K and whoever happens to be playing for him. This is how much I don’t like Duke. Makes my day every time. For real, though, Doug McDermott has been averaging 23.1 points per game (2nd in Division I) with a near 50% 3-point shooting percentage. He’s my pick for mid-major breakout player of the tournament (see below). Also, as I mentioned before, Memphis might have trouble with its play-in opponent, but this is sadly a kind of boring bracket, especially compared with the South. Though Oregon is the Pac-12 champ, I don’t think this is the 5-12 upset to pick.

Player to watch: Wooden Award finalist Doug McDermott of Creighton. Just like Jimmer and Gordon Hayward before him, this guy is due to become a household name. Don’t expect him to carry the Bluejays to the national championship, but they might have an upset or two in them.

Regional champ: There are three perennial superpowers in this region, but Louisville isn’t #1 overall for nothing. The team is coming off a huge Big East Tournament victory over Syracuse, and there aren’t many teams who can stop them. Look for them to bounce Michigan State in the Elite 8 and maybe even take the whole thing.

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So it begins: Blog-etology, 2012 edition

Not all of us are basketball fans, but when it comes to March, one thing rises above all the jibber-jabber of the world and stands as a glowing beacon of guestimation and lost productivity for all mankind: MARCH MADNESS. The first weekend of back-to-back-to-back-to… well, you get it… basketball has just gotten under way. Rather than discuss all the matchups (and delight in how early Harvard is going to bite the dust), we’re bringing you golden nuggets of prediction from our two literate people who occasionally browse ESPN.com resident experts in college basketball: Seth Kleinschmidt and Julien Ouellet. So kick back, pray for LIU-Brooklyn to pull off an upset, and get that CBS music stuck in your head.

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Marchtohealth.com turns your bracket into charity

marchtohealth

Instead of competing against millions of ESPN junkies for a random cash prize, why not help fight childhood obesity with your March Madness bracket? March to Health, a fundraiser started by Lex Rofes ’13, aims at doing just that. Before submitting their bracket to the school pools on the site, sports fans are asked to contribute to the charity ‘nPlay, a foundation supported by over 35 athletes (e.g., Grant Hill, Paul Pierce…) that promotes physical fitness in high schools. The added bonus here is that student-athletes are allowed to participate: the NCAA cleared the organization on the simple basis that “it doesn’t constitute gambling: there are no prizes except your own pride” and feeling of doing the right thing.

To Lex, starting March to Health “just made sense.” After starting a similar program in his senior year of high school, “it felt weird and shallow coming back to regular office pools.” So with the help of a few friends and the Sports Business Club, Lex raised about $5,000 last March in the fundraiser’s first year. “But people missed the smaller feel, being able to trash talk friends and compete in smaller subgroups,” he said. This year, 12 schools (including Harvard, UPenn, and Stanford) and a handful of companies have their own subgroups on the website — Lex hopes to add even more next year.

Since he feels that March to Health should keep its college vibe, Lex hopes his project will continue on after he graduates and looks to create similar fundraisers in future jobs. In this case, “it’s really students helping students. [People] try to push aside the positive value of sports, against what Brown is meant to do. But I think sports can be used in so many ways.”


Water + fire + donuts

Kim Perley / Herald

Waterfire is celebrating the NCAA tournament in Providence tonight along with Dunkin’ Donuts. The special edition of Barnaby Evans’ ’75 combustible art installation starts at 7:30 p.m. downtown and runs until 11.

UPDATE: Evans appeared on the Rhode Show today to talk about tonight’s event: