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
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
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)
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)
Methodology: The mullet pulled ahead in the last second