Copyright, 2017, Susan DeLay
If you’d like to contribute more than cheese dip and a platter of pigs in dough blankets to March Madness get-togethers, now’s your chance. Even if you watch only 10 minutes of college basketball each year, and then it’s only while you’re frantically searching for the remote control, that’s okay. You can still sound like you know what you’re talking about during NCAA tournament play.
- March Madness—March Madness is the weeks in March when it’s basketball, basketball, and more basketball. Deal with it.
- You have to start somewhere, so if you don’t have anything else in your March Madness vocabulary, remember these words:
- The Dance—From First Rounds through the Final Four and onto the Championship Game, you’re at the Dance. Think of each game during the NCAA tournament as a song at the Dance. (Don’t worry; you can sit out some of them.)
- Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4. As the tourney progresses, the field will be narrowed to 16, then 8, then 4. And finally…the final championship game, which is actually in April.
- Brackets. Like bears coming out of hibernation, brackets make a comeback every March. Once the initial roster of college teams is matched up, brackets appear with the same speed as it takes the driver behind you to honk after the light turns green. Brackets allow you to weigh in on every game, not just the championship final.
- Number One Seeds. Each division has a Number One Seed. With four divisions (East, West, Southeast, Southwest), there are four No. One Seeds: Ohio State (East), Duke (West), Pittsburgh (Southeast), Kansas (Southwest). Please give these teams a modicum of respect because there’s a good possibility they’ll make it to the Sweet 16.
- Cinderella. Sometimes fairy tales do come true—especially during March Madness. Cinderella teams are the underdogs that get invited to the Dance without much hope of getting very far and then a miracle happens. They turn into spoilers (or bracket busters) for more favored teams. This year the possible Cinderella teams could be: Belmont, George Mason, Morehead State, Oakland, or Old Dominion.
- Glass Slippers. If you hear someone ask who is wearing Glass Slippers, they mean: Who is the Cinderella team? (It’s because Cinderella wore glass slippers. Get it?) Just nod knowingly and counter with, “I wonder if there will there be another Butler this year.”
- In 2010, the Butler Bulldogs almost walked away with it all until a last-minute buzzer-beater shot from center court bounced off the rim. A very nervous Duke team took the trophy in the end. Butler’s big player went on to the NBA, so they didn’t do as well in 2011, but experience counts for something. You never know when they’ll squeeze their size 14 feet into glass slippers again.
- Bulldogs. Feel free to throw this word around as freely as you’d like, especially at the beginning of March Madness. There are eleven teams out there who claim a bulldog as their mascot. The two most talked about Bulldog teams are Butler (because of what happened in 2010) and Gonzaga.
- Gonzaga (The Zags).This Washington state team has been a threat for more than 15 years. They may not go all the way, but they can kick sand in the face of a favorite and one good upset can change everything. Toss the Zags into at least one March Madness conversation by asking, “So who will the Zags send home this year?” Then sit back and be proud you were the one who got the ball rolling. So to speak.
- Valpo. Valparaiso (in Indiana) set the bar for college basketball drama when Bryce Drew, who went on to play for the Chicago Bulls, made a field goal (basket) as the buzzer went off. The year was 1998 and the unknown Valpo team beat Mississippi by one point, then advanced to the Sweet 16 where they defeated Florida State. It was 19 years ago, but people are still talking.
One more thing. Don’t overthink March Madness by trying to figure out why Pittsburgh, which is in the Snow Belt, is classed in the Southeast. This is about basketball, not geography.