Get off of the bench and into the game this March
The remaining weeks of March and beginning of April can be either electrifying or like the electric chair, depending on which type of basketball fan you are. Some drink in the men's and women's NCAA March Madness tournament of elite college hoops, and others dread the marathon viewings, face painting and never ending cheers, horns and whistles.
If you're a hard-court hound or just can't wait for this bracket brouhaha to be over, the Gal's Got Game is here with a handy guide to help everyone turn March Madness turn into March Rad-ness.
Become a Basketball Know it All
Whether or not you love college basketball, there is something for everyone during March Madness. Also known as "The Big Dance," the name given to this 64-team, single knock out tournament gives the spine tingling sensation that something excellent is about to unfold. The lead up to the madness pumps the maximum amount of excitement into it with its nail biting team selections, bracket finalizing, office pools and predictions.
We'll begin with a short list of the things that should be avoided:
Don't watch the game in a popular sports bar if you are supposed to be at your desk or in your office...
If you find yourself with a "sports fever,' (i.e., calling in sick to watch your game of choice,) don't pick the top sports bar in your neighbourhood to view the game. Murphy's Law will ensure that your local news station will send a camera crew to that pub to cover the March Madness frenzy. A story that you will be part of and will ensure your boss will see your cheering face on television.
There are two exceptions to this rule of course, one being that you go to said pub in full face paint, a wig and give your name only as "Superfan," and therefore will be in disguise. The other being that while you cheer like a maniac and stuff nachos into your painted mouth, the person beside you is your boss. The latter is a more popular and beneficial strategy.
DVR Discretion (a.k.a. "Don't blow it")
If you find yourself with someone who avoided a sports fever, and has achieved the near impossible feat of going an entire day staying off of social media and avoiding scores in the lofty attempt to watch their favourite team on a previously recorded device later in the day, don't be the one to blow it.
Stay out of foul trouble by never uttering the following, no matter how innocent you think it may sound in your head:
"You don't know what happened in the game? I won't say a word but don't worry, you will like it..."
"Oh you haven't heard?"...Speaker then raises eyebrows enthusiastically, mouth turned to the side slowly blowing out air, which everyone knows is the universal sign for, "oh boy-you are in for a nasty surprise."
"It was the most shocking game I have ever seen!" (This information will tip the viewer towards the outcome that could be the most shocking, decreasing their chance of a clean viewing slate.)
Alternatively, if you are the one who has your precious game previously recorded, do not announce your situation. The mere mention that you do not know the outcome invites people around you to spill all kinds of secrets as though some form of truth serum was mysteriously pumped through the air vents. Lay low sports fan, this is your best approach.
Here are some suggestions for basketball behaviour that is encouraged:
Jump In: If you are new to the madness, jump in and wholeheartedly support the movement! This tournament moves at a thrilling pace and with its single knock out format, teams are being eliminated hourly, and predictions are being upended with every point. You don't need to know the history of each team or even their regular season statistics; the NCAA tournament is a season of its own with moments so unbelievable, even the most educated fans find themselves surprised.
Be Patient: As mentioned the tournament is energetic, the games appearing short with just two 20 minute halves. However, while the clock is ticking down, these matches can be stretched into long affairs. In a televised game each team is granted five time outs, and additionally there are four media time outs for commercial breaks.
On top of this there can be game stoppages involving injuries, referee disputes with the sideline officials or coaches, and routines by players on the free-throw line. A player taking a free throw is allowed 10 seconds to shoot. Some players take one bounce and shoot, and others take five bounces, and go through a medley of other movements in preparation to shoot. This, along with the time it takes some players to line up for a free throw can slow things down significantly.
Hang on for last-minute antics:
There is also a phenomenon that can occur late in a game that can give the players a second life. When a team finds itself down by approximately 10-15 points and there are three minutes or less on the game clock, the losing team may employ the strategy to foul the opposing team. This can work in their favour as it stops the game clock and get's the ball back in their hands. Basketball is a game of possessions and acquiring more of them late in the game, while stopping the clock is beneficial. The losing team can then attempt to gain offensive points quickly, while hoping that the winning team is tired late in the game and may miss those free-throws.
Coming back from a deficit of more than 15 points late in the game might seem out of the question, but surprisingly it happens frequently. The excitement and possibility that makes up the last three minutes of a game can make your head spin and is part of the reason the word madness is applied to this tournament.
Arm yourself with the knowledge of these three terms:
Cinderella Story: This is the story of a team who like Cinderella, worked hard but has been largely overlooked. In a single moment however, and perhaps with a bit of magic, this team will seize an opportunity to show a side of themselves that will change everything. The team may or may not make it to the final, but they will gain support and warm hearts along the way.
Underdog: The underdog is another overlooked team similar to Cinderella, but by definition is not expected to win. This fact alone is a powerful tool that the underdog possesses as they can sneak up on opposing teams who may not give them initial respect. Before the other team can even get organized, the Underdog can take control of the game and create upsets that can shake up the whole tournament.
Major Upset: Simply put, sometimes what is supposed to happen doesn't happen. And occasionally the most unimaginable outcome of a game, becomes reality. This is the nature of sport and a major upset can haunt one team while sealing another's place in history for all time.
So prepare yourself for the long haul, as March Madness takes over and this infectious tournament dominates conversation for the next three weeks. While the first round of the men's tournament kicked off this week, the Women's NCAA tournament starts March 22, providing plenty of nail-biting moments and a lot of opportunities to invite your boss out for nachos the whole month long.
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