4th and 10: Do’s and Don’t’s of March Madness by Sam Pouncey

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Tomorrow and Friday are my favorite two sports days of the year.  For those that may not know, the second (it’s really the first but officially the second thanks to the recent addition of the “First Four”) round of the NCAA tournament is on those two days.  I’m sure the majority of our readers are probably entering a bracket and looking for some advice.  I am going to give you some “do’s” and “don’t’s” of the NCAA tournament today.  However, it’s not about how to fill out your bracket.  It’s about how to avoid looking like one of the two things, or both, that nobody wants to be: an idiot and/or a tool.

10. Don’t- Be the “Upset” guy

No one likes that guy that puts like 8 double-digit seeds in the Sweet Sixteen.  For one thing, even the wildest year doesn’t produce that many upsets.  Furthermore, everyone knows you only did that so you can be the guy who “called that one big upset that nobody else saw coming.”  When you go 1 for 18 on your upset picks it doesn’t make it cool.  Have fun finishing at the bottom of your office pool.

9. Do- Justify your Upsets

Picking upsets is part of the tournament.  I picked upsets in my bracket just like everybody else.  If you are going to do it and talk/boast about it, then have some reasons for backing up your choices.  I’m not saying you have to write a legal brief for all of your upset picks, but don’t just say, “I had a feeling.”  That’s a primary indicator that you are really just the “upset guy.”

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8. Don’t- Be the “Favorite” guy

The opposite of the upset guy, but no less heinous, is the “favorite” guy.  I’m a pretty risk averse guy.  I don’t pick a ton of favorites usually.  That’s fine.  Don’t be the guy who picks straight chalk all the way through and brags about his bracket to his friends though.  I’m sorry but if you pick all one seeds to the Final Four, then I don’t want to hear about how “sick” your bracket is.  You will finish better than the “upset” guy, but you still probably won’t win your pool.

7. Do- Know your Final Four teams

Once again, I don’t expect a 12-page research paper on each of your Final Four picks.  At the same time, at least be able to hold a moderately informed conversation about your picks.  This makes you sound like a guy who knows what he’s talking about, and will gain you respect with your friends, who, let’s face it, already rag on you enough.  You don’t need to give them more fuel to hate on you by displaying how ignorant you are about basketball.

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6. Don’t- Be a “Hater”

You have pride in your bracket.  Everybody does, or they would have picked differently.  Don’t be that guy who reminds everyone how inferior their bracket is and how much of an idiot they are for picking a 3-seed to win the tournament.  It isn’t cool, and it just makes you look like a huge loser.

5. Do- Talk Trash

On the flip side, a little light-hearted banter between friends is ok.  Levi and I give each other a ton of crap about sports.  One of my shining moments was telling Levi that the Mavericks would be the Heat in 2011.  It was glorious.  Alas, refrain from attacking people you consider acquaintances, as opposed to friends, and avoid getting personal.  Telling someone that the only thing uglier than their bracket is their mom is completely ok…if you are 15. 

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4. Don’t- Be a “Homer”

If your team is a 1- or 2-seed, then by all means feel free to pick them to win it all.  Even a 3 or 4, and we’re square.  You don’t want to be that huge fan of the 13-seed that picks them to go to the Final Four.  You will be twice as disappointed when they lose in the first round, and you essentially just threw away 20 bucks.  Also, I hate to break it to you, but people judge you when you are unable to see your team’s flaws.

3. Do- Pull for your team

Only 68 teams make the NCAA tournament, and even fewer have a legitimate shot of actually winning it.  If you are a fan of one of these teams, then by all means pull for them like you would any other time.  Just don’t irrationally advance them farther than you know they ought to go. 

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2. Don’t- Take it too seriously

Admittedly, this is the pot calling the kettle black.  I take March Madness significantly more seriously than I should, and have a habit of yelling at the television at times.  I do tend to confine my rabidity to when I’m alone or with people that are equal as crazy as I am, however.  You don’t wanna be the guy at Buffalo Wild Wings who berates his waitress for asking you what you want to drink with 12 seconds left in the first half though.  If you are making everyone around you hate you during the NCAA tournament, then let me give you some advice.  Do less.

1. Do- Enjoy the Tournament

The NCAA tournament is my favorite sporting event of the year.  The first weekend is particularly heavenly.  This only comes around once a year.  I know it sucks when you lose half of your Final Four on the first weekend, but this is basketball mecca.  The next month is pure sports nirvana for a basketball fan, so sit back and enjoy the tournament.  It is, first and foremost, entertainment after all.

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