Let’s take some inventory. Look to your left. Look to your right. Collect yourself. Deep breath.
Life in 2017 will never be as good as right now.
You are staring down the barrel of Selection Sunday and the greatest sporting event known to man. For the next four weeks, you will be saturated with basketball at its purest. Where grit can overcome talent. Where fundamentals shine brighter than flash. Where toughness, emotion, and downright destiny will come to life via the picture on CBS, TNT, TBS and True TV and through the voices of Greg Gumbel, Kevin Harlan, Ian Eagle and the most beautiful voices in the world.
I get as emotional writing about March Madness as Henry David Thoreau did about Walden Pond. Its simplicity makes it magnificent. Kind of like a Mr. Deeds poem. It allows you to feel every sensation on the spectrum. Over the next four weeks, you are going to scream, sweat, turn up and pout. Like me, you might break up with a girl because you physically could not bring yourself to go to a house party after Gonzaga didn’t cover Fred Van Vleet on a 25 footer in 2013 and your life my forever change. That’s awesome. That’s why we, as fans, lace ’em up every March Madness.
Here are 8 thoughts of mine leading into this year pilgrimmage:
- If you don’t research your bracket like an absolute savage scouring its prey then I don’t respect you. Get your ass in the film room. I’m talking white marker on a glass wall type film room. Dive into team free throw percentages, rebounding rates, records against good teams, and maturity of the team. If you pick a bracket based on seeding, or worse…the Jay Bilas Index, then take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and admit that you will never be an alpha male or a mentor for anyone in this world.
- With that said, I’m a sucker for teams that rain 3’s first, and talk defense later. Looking at you UCLA, Marquette, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Iowa State and Creighton. You will inevitably let me down when you cover an IRS scandal like a Buzzfeed reporter, but whatever. Worth the rush of standing up every three point attempt.
- Head, body, head, body, head, body. That was Christian Bale playing Dicky Eklund in The Fighter, but it is also my philosophy on good tournament teams. You need to have two distinct punches. Post game, transition offense, shooting ability, getting to the free throw line etc. Pick two and be good at them. Unfortunately, that means I am not talking about you Virginia, Maryland, and St. Mary’s.
- Never pick the schools from big conferences that are just happy to be there. These schools have all the resources and tools to get the best talent and they are just excited to be in the Dance? It’s like that loser who starts going to an MMA gym for a year then gets in a fight. Come on. You’re not ready for this. Minnesota, Northwestern, South Carolina, Kansas State, USC….
- Find a mid-major potential cinderella with a superstar and follow them through a back alley way littered with drunks, bums, dirty needles and people giving you flyers to some church production. Mike Daum might be your boy.
- Identify the non-superstar guys you would want on your side, and don’t bet against them. Bryce Alford, Jalen Brunson, Bronson Koenig, Derrick Walton Jr., Matty Farrell, Andrew Chrabascz, Jevon Carter…. Remember slow Roosevelt Jones on those Butler teams? Yeah, that is what I’m talking about.
- Don’t pick Gonzaga to go to the Final Four.
- Lastly, the most important one… Don’t miss a damn game. I don’t care if you’re tired, if your brackets shredded, if Forgetting Sarah Marshall is on FX, it does. not. matter. This run of purity only lasts 4 weeks. Cherish it. In a few months the only thing on is going to be LeBron vs. Steph propaganda then Tim Kurkjian. There will be a time when you wake up and you’re forced to be excited about a Home Run Derby. Don’t regret doing March right.
YOMO. You Only March Once (a year).