Back when I was way more of a dick, I used to shit on March Madness. Why, I have no idea, but that was just sort of who I was. March Madness resided in that not-so-rarefied air also occupied by people who liked to dance, 95% of all mainstream music, snowboarders, people on bikes, fans of sports I didn’t like (which was all of them except baseball, football, Beirut, and professional wrestling), pro wrestling fans who weren’t on the internet, most pro wrestling fans who were on the internet, and really, just most things.
Like I said, I was way more of a dick. At some point I realized it’s much more fun to join in than to arbitrarily hate everything. This has made my life at least 250% more enjoyable. Ask one of my college roommates what it was like seeing me dance to “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga at Clayton’s wedding.
So, in keeping with that spirit, I’ve filled out March Madness brackets the last four years and always enjoy myself. Below are my tips for how to maximize your fun (Note: I’ve read the first part of this sentence at least 10 times, and I know it makes me sound like some jagoff motivational speaker your middle school hired to talk about abstinence, and I don’t care. Maximize your fun, kids! By keeping it in your pants!) and not be the insufferable skidmark at work everyone hates. So join me.
1) Take the Opening Day Off. Last year my buddy Deuce posted a photo on Facebook of a giant beer at like 10:30 in the morning on the opening day of the tourney. I distinctly remember seeing that while I was on a conference call with people I actively disliked. I wanted to hatefuck his brain that day for its genius in taking off the opening day of the tournament. The opening day is the best part! It’s one of the only days in the year you can watch any old game and enjoy the everloving shit out of it. If you can take off the opening day of the tournament, do! For the love of God, do! Predictably, I’ll be working as usual. I look forward to your taunting Facebook posts and Tweets. Fuckers.
2) If nothing else, escape to whatever’s nearby for a lunch beer. Unless you’re a neurosurgeon or an air traffic controller or something, cut yourself a break and imbibe a bit at lunch. You deserve it. Even if you don’t, screw it. Have a beer.
3) You can say, “My bracket’s already busted,” but please use discretion. The very first game will end. There will be 63 to go, and some dipshit you work with will run into you by the copier and go, “Welp, my bracket’s already busted! Hee-yuck!” You have every right to punch that guy in the face if it occurs before Monday the 25th. Otherwise, this statement is tantamount to discussing the weather. A polite, “Bummer. So who’d you have winning?” response is customary and sufficient.
4) Ignore every single college basketball expert. My friend Mike complained on Facebook recently, “I should be used to it by now, but it still fries me how much more press coverage that CU receives compared to CSU… All morning, the radio and internet was full of CU talk with the Rams only mentioned as an afterthought. Should CU lose in the first round and CSU win the entire thing, I am pretty sure that the front page of the paper would be some agonizing article about how CU got jobbed. Lame.” I actually typed this in before deleting it (apparently I thought it better to be a snarky dickhole on my own turf instead of Facebook, true pussy that I am), “You know what helps that? Not listening to sports talk radio at all.”
That’s more of a life rule considering sports talk radio is probably the lowest form of human communication in existence, but in this particular instance, it very much applies. And if you’re relying on college basketball experts to help pick your bracket, you’re better off just setting your $5 on fire. When it gets down to it, these assholes don’t know anymore than you do because in a tournament this size, luck and extenuating circumstance are way too heavily weighted. Unless you’re just looking to pick all the #1 seeds, then by all means listen to Digger Phelps, who is a moron.
Also, just to follow up, yes you should be used to CU receiving a disproportionate amount of the coverage. CU alums are incredibly insecure, and therefore prone to dominating the discussion even when the school’s accomplishments do not merit.
5) Always pick against Duke. It’s fun to hate Duke. Why? Because people who went to Duke get super defensive about it, which is always hilarious watching entitled rich white kids get sensitive about their college. Ask CU fans about it.
6) If you’re nervous about losing your buy-in, you shouldn’t be gambling. Get help. Or just play the dumb $5 one at work. If you can’t afford the $5 one, get a better job. Or any job.
7) Use whatever methodology you want to pick your bracket. You will lose to some chick who doesn’t watch college basketball. Last year, that chick was my wife. She used the money to buy us a new headboard. She seemed very dialed in to her picks, but her methodology was completely impenetrable. I asked her about it later in the tournament and even she couldn’t remember. So basically just go nuts and go with your gut. If you’ve got 3 of the Final 4, you’ve got a shot. Otherwise, you’re fucked. Besides, most of the fun has already happened, so don’t worry about it.
8) If you win, gloat like an asshole. You just beat crazy odds and defeated dozens of your friends, co-workers and people you probably don’t know for money. You have earned (or lucked your way into) your bragging rights. If you have friends who are big college basketball fans, all the better. Go nuts.
Above all else, always remember, “Win or lose, we still booze.”