There’s nothing better than March Madness. It combines everything we love about sports: amateur players (almost every team), professional players (John Calipari’s teams), underdogs making incredible runs, dramatic buzzer beaters, overrated teams choking early (John Calipari’s teams +Kansas), skipping work to watch games, lying to your boss about working while watching games, horrific officiating mistakes that make you question the existence of a higher power, and endless gambling possibilities.
To aid your enjoyment of this special season, we present the 2012 ManCave Daily Guide to March Madness. Before you fill out your bracket, let us tell you what’s really going on.
Brackets: The only statement you make by not filling one out is that you hate America. It’s a beautiful thing when gambling is encouraged in the workplace. Bet a fiver that the new receptionist will have an affair with the CEO and you can lose your job. Refuse to throw a fiver into a bracket challenge, everyone will openly wish you lost your job. By the way, the new receptionist is a man, and the CEO is a woman. Do you feel sexist for making assumptions? You should.
Victory: The key to winning your office pool is picking the final four and the champion correctly; everything else is just showing off. Also make sure to have a few sweet 16 Cinderellas to help offset picking all the best teams, which is what everyone may do. Overall, don’t try too hard to show off and you’ll be fine. ESPN analysts act like they know everything. Who routinely has the worst brackets? ESPN analysts.
*Someone absurd will lead your pool, but won’t win it. Someone’s kid. Someone’s dog. The intern who loves sports even less than working 9 to 5 for free. The secretary who calls halves periods. One of them will lead the office pool after the first weekend but relax. Champions aren’t made in the first four days of the tournament; they are made in the last weekend. Yeah, Gladys (no one fun is ever named Gladys) picked the Long Beach State upset, but she also put them in the championship game, so it’s not going to matter.
*Fun March Madness legal fact: if your employer blocks ESPN.com on your work network only during the tournament, you’re legally allowed to burn down your workplace. It’s true! I have a fictional friend who is a judge who said you can use this article as a defense in court.
*March Madness trend: Watching your friend root a little too hard for a team composed mainly of white players. A team like this never fails to capture America’s heart. Back in the ’60s, it was a team of black players as the big underdog against Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky squad. Now, it’s a team of white guys winning in March that continually shocks the sports world. Playing mainly white guys is seen as a bigger handicap than having Pat Knight coach your team.
Also, have you noticed some people describe these teams the same way they do WNBA players? They’re “fundamentally sound” and “play the game the right way.” Put it this way, if you know someone who is a Butler fan and they don’t live in Indiana, then they are the worst type of bandwagon fan (racist). Just make sure you have a pithy comeback ready when they text you about Creighton’s first win.
*Failure! When players leave it all on the line in their final college games and come up short, their emotions can get the best of them. And by God, nothing is more sexually arousing for a television producer. At the end of close games, expect more shots of the losing bench than of the actual action. They like to drown us with tears so we remember what it’s like to feel emotion.
*March Madness myth: no one picks their bracket according to mascots or colors. At one point in mankind’s history, it was thought that women picked their bracket just by jersey colors or mascots of the teams playing each other. Chauvinistic men who want to laugh at how little women know about sports perpetuate this rumor. If they stopped being sexist for one minute, they would realize women are far too lazy to do the research necessary to pick a bracket that way. (Metahumor. It’s what’s for dinner.)
*Player to watch: Anthony Davis. He’s the Player of the Year and easily the most intriguing player to watch in the tournament. His haters (sports term for critics) think he does nothing but block shots and dunk (boring, right?) but if you watch him play you’ll see he’s much more. He can knock down jump shots, run the floor, rebound and control a game defensively. Oh, and he can dunk and block shots. He’s fun to watch because he can affect a game in so many ways. He doesn’t have to be the leading scorer to establish that he’s the best player on the court.
*Skip work. No games will be more fun than the ones you skip work for. Watching four games simultaneously at a sports bar while the sad sacks at your office pick up your slack is one of the greatest feelings the common man can experience. If you watch at home, make sure to have a cooler of beer next to the couch. Completely unnecessary, but tailgating in your living room will make it feel like more of an event.
*School is no excuse. Never was, even before the computer was invented. I was in high school so long ago that Minesweeper was the most popular computer game and we still managed to follow March Madness. I was particular to hiding a walkman (they have these in museums now) in my waistband and running the headphones through my shirt sleeve and then listening to games while pretending to look bored in class. If you’re a teacher, nothing will make you cooler than showing games in class.
*Cutaway shots. Here’s a fun drinking game. Step 1: Drink every time CBS cuts away to a shot of a concerned wife of a coach. Step 2: There is no step 2, everyone is dead before halftime. If the wife isn’t hot, the cutaways will be of a player’s family. All of this goes out the window if your team has a celebrity fan. Ashley Judd will get more airtime during Kentucky games than John Calipari (rightfully so). The only other teams with celebrity fans are Duke (Dick Vitale) and Cincinnati (Nick Lachey, because Cincinnati is the only place that still recognizes him as a celebrity).
*Upset specials. If you want to really shake things up, make sure to go against Duke. It’s in America’s best interest if Duke falls. Who can do it? Kentucky, obviously, but don’t rule out 10-seed Xavier. At their best, Xavier was zipping up foes across the nation and may have the best backcourt outside of the top 10 (Mark Lyons is the most talented player in the country that doesn’t get talked about). I also like Ohio taking down Michigan, in an upset that doesn’t mean much because Michigan wasn’t going anywhere anyway. That Ohio pick is based on nothing other than the fact that it’s my alma mater. You see, this is the type of analysis that will end up better than whatever nonsense Doug Gottlieb is throwing out.
Stay away from Dick Vitale’s bracket. These guys put their brackets online to help you fill out yours. Don’t take any advice from Dickie V. Every one of his final four teams is Duke.
Best person to start following on Twitter for the next 3 weeks: @UDFlyers. He’s a sarcastic and brutally honest Dayton Flyers fan who calls out BS from the floor to the broadcasting booth. Always interesting and doesn’t Tweet a million times a minute so he’s not going to ruin your feed. My favorite tweet from him from the conference tournaments.
“Jimmy Dykes likes UK’s players because they don’t wear headbands, armbands, or high socks. Ugh white people are the worst.”
Every timeout during a basketball game, I pick up my phone to see if he’s said anything, so definitely worth a follow.
More trouble for Syracuse? Stay away from ‘Cuse. Jim Boeheim was on SportsCenter and said “Our team has been in a lot of dogfights this year.” WHOA! Scandal much? I have no idea how this team will focus as the NCAA gives them the Vick treatment.
Final thoughts. No one knows what they’re talking about in terms of what teams to pick but if you follow all the guidelines set forth here, this March Madness will be the most enjoyable of your life.