March Madness Day 1: “Time to Dance”

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Updated: March 21, 2014
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This day was so glorious I can’t even write a decent intro for it, let alone put my thoughts together in a concise, edited, summed up way. As such, here’s a running set of notes as I experienced sports-nerd heaven. Please excuse the typos and believe me when I say read this all the way through – clarity starts to set in toward the end: 

12:15pm – Tipoff:  Ok, I’m actually in the gym at this time, but I DVR’ed the game so I could experience tip-off. But this is Dayton/Ohio State – I really don’t care about watching the entirety of this game anyway. 

1:00pm:  Halftime of Dayton/Ohio State. Dayton up by 3, Popeye’s chicken ‘n’ biscuits in hand. American is leading Wisconsin and they can’t seem to miss. Wisconsin will win, but this is still exciting. The best part of this time of day is that every single bracket is still in play. Anything can happen. I absolutely love this. Also, what the heck is TruTV and how is it still a thing? What does it show? And how does it become a basketball channel for two to four days a year? Inquiring minds want to know. 

2:04pm:  Last three minutes of Dayton/Ohio State. Great game so far. Dayton’s clinging to life, Ohio State is making every single mistake it can to keep this game going. Oh, and American? They were up 19-16 at one point…and have been outscored by Wisconsin 35-6 since. Woof. 

2:08pm:  HUGE and-1 for Ohio State!! Tied. Much couch jumping and loud screaming. Sportsgasm. Hopefully my neighbors have day jobs. 

2:10pm:  Completely torn. I hate Ohio State (though I have no earthly reason to, I just always have) and I love rooting for underdogs – but the Buckeyes winning preserves my billion dollar bracket. As I write this I’m screaming at the TV: “Dayton, how can you miss two free throws??” Screw it – I’m all-in on the Buckeyes. 

2:11pm: Did I say all-in on the Buckeyes? Probably my first mistake of the day. 

2:16pm: 20.9 seconds left…wait a minute.  Draft Day?? How is this a movie? 1) Where did Kevin Costner’s quasi-career resurrection come from and 2) This looks like a movie trailer you’d make if you were making fun of movie trailers. Also, Aaron Craft is unbelievable. I yelled out loud in support of him while typing this.

2:19pm:  My jaw is on the floor. Ohio State needed a miracle and Craft did everything he could to deliver. Also, my billion dollars is now off the table. 

Ohio State

Great commentary and tag lines from the announcers [writers note, 11:33pm: wish I wrote them down]. This was probably the best game I’ll see all day considering that Pitt is already 24 ahead of Colorado and Wisconsin is blowing by American. My next hope is Harvard…Harvard? Yep. Harvard. Dayton, you win the 1st Upset of the Day Award. Welcome to the ball, Cinderella: 

Cinderella Gif

2:33pm  Glad I tuned into this Harvard game late. “No points in the last six minutes,” the announcer laments as the arena is basically silent. This is the best game currently on. Time to start drinking. 

3:04pm:  ‘Cuse!!  Homerism is now in full effect. Somewhere in between here and the last note I started tweeting on behalf of the site. Don’t hate on recycled jokes – I conserve because I care. 

3:19pm:  I’m…I’m working.  Like on work work. This isn’t right. Time to drink more. 

3:28pm:  BYU/Oregon is starting. I’m actually interested. My buddy’s fiancé (who knows nothing of these teams or maybe even college basketball in America) picked them to go deep.  Oddly, the bracket I generated using a stats based algorithm I wrote had them going deep, too. I went with it. Let’s go, upset! (So far, not looking good.) 

3:45pm:  Interest is starting to wane. I need one thunderous dunk from ‘Cuse or anyone to bring me back. I love basketball, and college hoops is great, but there’s no denying the talent isn’t as strong. These kids play with heart, but they also play with nerves – a lot of sloppiness. Also, BYU is making my algorithm look foolish. 

3:54pm:  Cincy trying to help me with a dunk, but Harvard’s D is stifling. I can’t believe I wrote that sentence either. 

4:16pm:  Harvard up 1 with 2:44 left to play. This is gonna be awesome. 

4:24pm:  Oh God. Ugly turnover by Cincy. Harvard missing frees – just hit one that mattered. 37 seconds left and this is decided. Good on Harvard! Not so good on my predictive modeling. So far I’m 2 for 4 on the algorithm and my “I know sports” bracket is…2 for 4. Whatever, I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it for Albany! 

4:36pm:  Switched to the Albany game and my eyeballs nearly exploded. Good. Freaking. God. Those are some of the ugliest uniforms I’ve ever seen (especially from the back).

Albany ugly uniforms

4:52pm:  The Chris Webber Burger King commercial is amazing. I honestly can’t wait to see this at least 10 more times today. 

5:03pm:  I’ve lost the remote. This is a problem. BYU is potentially making me look stupid and the remote is actually making me look stupid. I can’t watch this game anymore. Where is the remote?? 

5:04pm:  Found it. I’m glad this is the biggest problem in my life right now.

7:00pm:  Girlfriend is home and she didn’t run screaming when she saw me stretched out on the couch, unshowered, disheveled, and a little beer buzzed. This is a good omen. 

8:32pm:  Need food. Need booze. NC State is up and I’m angry that Yahoo and its billion dollar bracket didn’t record this pick correctly. I realize now I was immediately disqualified. I have no idea how this happened, but I’m irrationally convinced this is what kept me from a billion dollars. UConn is fighting hard. 

8:57pm:  Legit Thai food. Beers. Recharge those batteries. 

Writer’s note – 11:50pm:  This really sounded much more interesting as I was writing it. 

9:33pm:  Back home, turn on the TV and HOLYSWEETLORDNCSTATEGAME! Up 2! 28.1 to play! Further proof you can never leave the couch in the first couple of days of the Madness. 

9:44pm:  Take it to the rack!! (I wish I knew whom I wrote this about – lesson for tomorrow.) 

10:03pm:  NC State blew it. I’m still not over this. 

10:04pm:  I’m totally over it. North Dakota/Oklahoma is tied with 26.3 seconds left. Get it. 

10:13pm:  Announcer just said, “Put the team on his back.” Gold star for a, “I put the team on my back, dog,” reference. 

10:24pm:  I really hope “The Fargo Bunch” (as called by the announcers) becomes a theme/meme/something for ND State.

10:29pm:  “He [Lawrence Alexander] will never have to buy a beer in Fargo again.”  – My girlfriend, verbally re-tweeting the terrible announcers #vRT 

10:30pm:  Lawrence Alexander, you have won the fifteen minutes of fame award:

Campbell soup

10:34pm:  Interesting trends in the 15 seed department. They keep going up on the 2 seeds for the first half of the game and then get absolutely destroyed in the second. I’m glad that the pedigree of these high seeds starts to show as time goes on. 

11:13pm:  Losing steam again – and if anyone thought Nova was going to fall in this game, you should just turn off the TV. 

11:55pm:  Rick Barnes, please blow this game. Grantland has taught me to hate you. 

11:59pm:  “The Junior from Denmark,” is not something you hear every day in the NCAA tourney…and holy crap, I can’t believe that Arizona State couldn’t just get some hands on the ball. I’m definitely having flashbacks to the Knicks blowing games in that fashion. 

12:07am:  I can’t believe I’m still doing this. 

12:11am:  Realization – I either need to write more analysis, or fewer notes. Or stop taking notes on my iPhone. 

12:16am:  I can’t believe for a second that the Louisville/Manhattan game will stay this close for longer than 4 minutes of gameplay. This just smacks of, “ok, we’re going to start playing now. “This is what I was talking about with “the pedigree of these teams.” They’ve been there before – they’re coached by guys who have been there before. They’ve got another gear to shift into. 

12:28am:  I clearly don’t know a thing about basketball. This game is still too close for comfort for my Louisville friends. 

12:46am:  …Manhattan might actually be able to do this. 

12:57am:  I am so into this game I cannot even believe I was counting this out. Huge and-1 for Manhattan – even if they missed. Hancock is playing like a pro. Louisville protecting the ball….DAGGER 3 from Hancock. I screamed. My girlfriend looked up and in the middle of the action just said, “Why does it say ‘double bonus’ under their names?” I love her. 

1:03am:  Louisville/Manhattan is over…and I can’t believe the New Mexico State/SDSU game is relevant enough to warrant watching. SDSU up 5 with 1:10 to play. As much as I want to sleep, I wouldn’t have day 1 go any other way. 

1:09am:  I was just about to write, “It’s over” – but New Mexico State is down 5 with 33.1 left. In the words of Bronson, Missouri: This.  Ain’t.  Over. 

1:12am:  The stuff dreams are made off. New Mexico State fights for two points in the paint, is down three with the clock running low, and SDSU turns. The ball. Over. Please make this game go on forever. 

1:15am, maybe 1:14, 1:13, I don’t care:  Kevin Aronis makes the most improbable 3 after shorting one mere seconds earlier for New Mexico State to tie the game. Then ridiculous shots followed by a doesn’t-count-tip-in-that-made-everyone-hold-their-breath by SDSU. As I tweeted earlier – jumping up from the couch and screaming is the Overtime Rain Dance (written retweet #wRT). 

1:16am:  Free basketball! And more gin! 

1:20am:  New Mexico State is completely falling apart. This isn’t even worth writing about anymore. This is not a reverse jinx scenario, I’m done. 

1:21am:  New Mexico State just hit a 3. I’ll stop pretending I know anything. 

1:25am:  With 9.4 seconds left to play and NM State down 4, I think I can safely say this is in the bag. I’m exhausted, NM state just airballed and…nope, never mind.  SDSU got a fingertip on it. Ball game back. Easy bucket. Down 2 with 8 to play. I’m turning into an episode of The Walking Dead but I couldn’t be happier. 

1:33am:  The rarely seen, “Let’s brick this free-throw so we can rebound and hopefully score a bucket,” move by NM State. Yes, it smacks of desperation – but that’s where they are right now. Especially with SDSU at the line. 

1:34am:  That’s it.  Amazing day 1. I don’t think days 2-4 can hope to measure up to this. But I’ve been wrong about everything else so far.

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