A British Sports Man Utter Confusion at March Madness
Even though the school I went to was chronically and systematically underfunded by local government, and was always on the verge of being sold off to be turned into houses, high school were them halcyon days. And because I’m a big Sports guy, Sports always played a big part in it. From being a starting centre forward for the school team (countless appearances, no goals from open play) to spending most break times playing rugby (I once took a knee to the side of the head trying to tackle and decided to never play again) and convincing our weakest teachers to let us play Baseball instead of lessons (different to American baseball — no knuckleballs or cylindrical bats)
But there was also basketball. The go to rainy-day game for a few of us, the game we played when we were waiting for the school to open its doors in the morning. A game I enjoy playing, but detest to watch. Look, King James, Steph Curry, et al got some wicked nice skills with the ball but I went to watch a Boston Celtics game and I couldn’t get excited. I knew what I was watching was some good Sport buy my excitement level only piqued when the bros behind me started talking about John Mulaney’s basketball bit — an esoteric reference I very much enjoyed.
The game has no excitement to me as a viewer. Sure, there are explosive moments — remember when LeBron did that thing in those great trainers? — but generally, the game moves back and forth like attack vs defence, decided on who fucks up first and I can’t get with that. I also can’t get with it because back in Phys Ed, I got ALL NET on a copacetic three pointer from down town (shades of Steph Curry) and my teacher actually told me off for doing some sick skills. Fuck that guy.
But it’s just not my sport of choice. So imagine my befuddlement when I see so much of America losing their collective poop during March Madness. Over COLLEGE basketball. In the UK, college sport is treated as the warm up to the massive drinking sesh on a WEDNESDAY where someone will probably drink their own piss. Playing college soccer was a demoralising experience where our games were relegated to pitches about a mile away from the changing area and the only spectators were substitutes who really didn’t want to be there.
All this talk of brackets, Grayson Allen, colleges that have fake names (there’s no such place as Winthrop), and being in a Wake Forest, I thought I would check it out.
Now, college sports is great and well done on being big on that. But some of y’all college names are very intense and confusing to a limey Brit. So, in order to get my head around them, here is my initial reaction to each team name:
68. Maryland Terrapins — I live near Maryland. Great cookies.
67. Dayton Flyers — Loved Daytona.
66. Virginia Tech Hokies — Kokies.
65. UC Davis Aggies — Getting Aggy, arms house.
64. New Mexico State Aggies — State on him.
63. Creighton Bluejays- Michael.
62. Louisville Cardinals — Praise the lord.
61. Cincinnati Bearcats — Sequel to Cat Dog.
60. Texas Southern Tigers — Is a southern tiger different to another tiger?
59. Princeton Tigers — Like these?
58. North Carolina Central Eagles — Central eagle >>> spread
57. Winthrop Eagles — Hetty
56. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles -
55. Gonzaga Bulldogs — Big Bang Bulldog
54. Butler Bulldogs — British bulldog
53. Kansas State Wildcats
52. Kentucky Wildcats
51. Northwestern Wildcats — Wildcats! That song init?
50. Villanova Wildcats
49. Arizona Wildcats
48. North Dakota Fighting Hawks — Why are ND fighting birds?
47. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers – mount mountaineers did I stutter
46. West Virginia Mountaineers
45. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders – better than those red muthas
44. UNC Wilmington Seahawks — SEAHWAWKS?
43. Iowa State Cyclones — One one cycle in THIS state
42. Miami Hurricanes – do they?
41. Jacksonville State Gamecocks — Lol
40. South Carolina Gamecocks — Lol 2
39. Purdue Boilermakers — Are they fucking plumbers?
38. Wake Forest Demon Decons — It feels like no-one crossed out Demon
37. Vanderbilt Commodores — Holla at Lionel/Jordan Rogers
36. Oklahoma State Cowboys –
35. Providence Friars -
34. Kent State Golden Flashes — That might be a migraine/stroke
33. Marquette Golden Eagles — LAFAYETTE
32. Minnesota Golden Gophers — I liked that hockey advert
31. Saint Mary’s Gaels — Windy city
30. Iona Gaels — Sounds like my ex
29. Seton Hall Pirates — Could be british
28. East Tennessee State Buccaneers — Hope the guys from West Tenn. Don’t show
27. Vermont Catamounts — YES LADS
26. Virginia Cavaliers — Shit car
25. Xavier Musketeers — Shit film
24. Bucknell Bison — Shit cow
23. VCU Rams — Where?
22. Rhode Island Rams — Brir
21. Oregon Ducks — Herby
20. Arkansas Razorbacks — To much sas
19. UCLA Bruins — I LIKE THESE
18. Baylor Bears — Bearlor
17. North Carolina Tar Heels — Born slippy
16. South Dakota State Jackrabbits — Stop jacking off
15. Nevada Wolf Pack — Every bros team
14. Florida State Seminoles — Seminal
13. Wisconsin Badgers — Literally nothing in Wi.
12. Kansas Jayhawks — Nah
11. SMU Mustangs — SMH
10. Florida Gators — OF COURSE
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish — Why are they fighting irish people?
8. Michigan Wolverines — Hope they play Xavier
7. Troy Trojans — History
6. USC Trojans — More history
5. Michigan State Spartans — 300 is the bros favourite
4. Duke Blue Devils — Hell has frozen over
3. Wichita State Shockers — Hope they play
2. New Orleans Privateers — These guys
1. Northern Kentucky Norse — Nork Norse Nought
As someone who’s entire professional level football league contains 72 teams; I physically cannot comprehend a two and a bit week tournament with 68 teams. The soccer world cup has 32 teams in it! Pushing that to 48 is making people lose their minds. 68 teams! Our college system in the UK has around 115 colleges — you just have 68 good enough to get mad at March — what about the 1873? What do they do in March? Mellow March? Meandering March?
Also, your college names. What is a Vanderbilt? What is a Gonzaga? You know, most British college names are simply a city or a county and University before or after it. Simple. We barely have a mascot. You guys go all out! Wolverines, Irish people fight, Mustangs (Sally). It’s amazing! It fills me such wonder. I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THESE PLACES. Do East Tennessee and Middle Tennessee gang up on West? Is there a West? Who does Grayson Allen play for? Is he gonna kill anyone this March Madness? Why are there so many British sounding names?
So, with all these questions swirling around my head, here’s my scientific approach to filling in my bracket.
Villanova sounds like a star so they will obviously beat Mt. St. Mary’s/NO and I think it’s grossly unfair they played two teams. Wisconsin is cold and they spend lots of time inside which is why they will be Virgina Technically. Virginia Non-Technical will beat UNC Wilmington because I don’t know what that is. Florida will beat East Tennessee because the latter are too pre-occupied with ganging up on West Tennessee. Shake My Um will beat Providence/USC because again because SMU is good. Bae-lor will beat New Mexico Street because they are bae(Lor). Marquette sounds British so I have them down to beat South Carolina and Duke will beat Troy because of the fall of.
Gonzaga sounds intense unlike South Dakota St. so Gonzaga wins this one while Vanderbilt powered by Jordan Rogers will beat Northwestern because that’s just a compass point. Notre Dame will beat Princeton because the proletariat Celts will revolt against the bougheousie. Bucknell from Harry Potter will beat West Virginia. Professor Xavier will beat the cookie guys from Maryland and Forida State will beat FGCU because Florida is a state and not an acronym. VCU will beat Saint Mary’s though because an acronym beats a stadium in Southampton. North Dakota will beat Arizona because the AZ players are missing Auston Matthews.
Kansas will beat NC Cen/UCDavis because Kansas survived a tornado and Iowa St will beat Nevada because of reasons I can’t go into now. Vermont will beat Purdue because I’ve been to Vermont and it’s a lovely place and Creighton will beat Rhode Island because being on an island makes basketball hard to play. Oregon will beat Iona because Iona is just one girl I know from school and she wasn’t good at sports. Michigan is massive and will beat Oklahoma because Oklahoma hates Golden State. Louisville will beat Jack State because the CEO of Twitter has other things on his mind.
North Carolina will beat Texas Southern because of Air Jordan and Texas is big and Southern Texas is miles away. Seton Hall sounds like a stately home and them man ain’t good at basketball so Arkansas gets the W and Minnesota will beat Middle Tennessee because of reasons already discussed. Winthrop will out British Butler in the all-Brit battle at Waterloo and Cincinnati will win over the two teams they have to play even though Wake Forest are very Woke. UCLA will beat Kent St. because I have a UCLA jumper at home and Wichita St. will beat Dayton because a record label is better than a computer game. And, in the battle of Kentucky, Kentucky will beat No. Kentucky because we all said No. Kentucky.
After the kids from That 70s Show decide against streaking, Villanova streak past Wisconsin and Florida feels like it would be bigger than Virginia hence they go through there. Baylor beat SMU because bae and Duke beat Marquette because Grayson Allen tripped them all up. Gonzaga beat Vanderbilt because Jordan Rogers took his eye off the ball at the decisive moment to promote Hello Fresh on Snapchat. Bucknell sailed past North Dakota and will play Xavier in the next round because that’s what I wrote down on my sheet.
I could go on. I won’t. It’s getting really, really hard to keep up this level of commitment. NBA is something I just about have a grip on — 76ers are bad, Cavs are good — but College Basketball? It’s a step too far. Looking at 68 teams on a bracket, will a little background from places like SB Nation and NYT, makes it almost impossible to predict a winner with any authority — as impossible as Grayson Allen not tripping people up.
And that’s why I have Duke to win, probably. In the small amount of stuff I have read about the NCAA basketballs, he seems to appear quite a lot. Having a tantrum, tripping people up, looking sad but nice at the same time. And the little I know about basketball is that tripping people is bad.
In a couple of weeks time, all this will be someone else’s dream and I can get back to filling my time with learning about something meaningful — but for now? Go Blue Devils. And Grayson Allen.