March, Without the Madness

March is humbling.
Half a bottle of tequila, Bridget Jones’s Diary, regrettable voicemails humbling. To say March makes men from boys bookends the triumph while neglecting the mysterious bump observed in Kleenex sales (so this is what it was like for the better-smelling gender when Ryan Reynolds put a ring on it?). A great war of college campuses, where Billikens are hunted by wolves and broncos plow through oranges. What the heck’s a Billiken anyway? I couldn’t do it anymore. After years of torture, and generally indifferent towards W. Buffett’s gatrillzillion dollar offer, I finally listened to Lauren Conrad.“Don’t cry over someone who wouldn’t cry over you.”Let’s back up a little.Like the millions vying to change their stars, typical Chris in the Spring read, watched, and bartered for whatever loose skin from those forbidden apples his resourcefulness could afford; just something to help him choose. 63 selections, marketed as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, choosing one winner from two teams, seems impossible – and is – until you’ve found someone out in Palo Alto with an algorithm. Combine that with Dickie V’s instincts, Lebron’s in-game knowledge, and that pair of lucky underwear you haven’t washed since January and you’ve got yourself a winner. Fool proof!

Wait…did Lehigh just beat Duke? Oh, that’s fine. I didn’t have them going very far anyway.

WHAT DID NORFOLK STATE JUST DO!?!?

Only four times since the tournament expanded in 1985 had a 15 seed beat a number two seed. And then in 2012, it happened twice. It was a “God damn you, Bernice!” moment. In preparation for that year’s bracket, I had compiled my own data, assigning each team a score determined by average age of starters (ha! Senior theory), number of tournament games won recently, along with turnovers, rebounds, and free throw percentages.

I finished dead last in my pool.march madness

2013 comes around. I’m a little older, a little wiser, a little more broke. Georgetown does what winning teams do – limit turnovers, enforce a stifling brand of Big East defense, make the freebies. Plus their opponent, formerly known as “wait, where’s that school again?”, currently known as Dunk City, has never been to the tourney before. Last season exorcised the demons, the 15 seed mania was in our rear view. And then Florida Gulf Coast University pummeled the Hoyas. The 1984 champion, five final-four appearances, birthplace of Patrick Ewing and seven Big East title winning Hoyas.

My mom told me it would be okay but I didn’t believe her.

All of this comes from all of that. The feeling when you’ve finally settled upon that clutch pick and you’re certain of nothing more, the honest to God hour spent flipping between the eight and the nine seeds, the knowledge that of course Mike Krzyzewski won’t let the the biggest spenders in basketball lose to the unprofitable Mountain Hawks. And then you’re wrong. And you keep being wrong.

I’ve submitted a bracket this year (10 minutes instead of 10 hours). I’m putting my money on Creighton and even Virgil knows fortune favors the bold. But when that first day is over, after Wisconsin’s realized they’re Wisconsin, Milwaukee has given it to Villanova, and Delaware’s busted more than just East Lansing’s hopes, my eyes will be dry. I’m done crying over you March.

Maybe I’ll collect stamps.

by CHRIS MELVILLE / sports editor
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