For many, March feels like a sleeper month, but for me, it is electrifying. March contains one of the funnest sporting events of the year, NCAA March Madness. This single elimination tournament has spurred so many different copycats, including the best copycat, Persephone’s own Middlemarch Madness. What is more fun than having an actual winner of something? Unlike the mess that is college football’s post season, college basketball’s tournament gives us an easy solution. 64 teams enter, 1 team leaves. It is the best, usually least bloody, Thunder Dome.
America loves the story of an underdog, and this is why I believe become glued to our seats and have the least productive weeks during March Madness. We believe in the ability of the Daniels to triumph over Goliaths. I got into March Madness because my dad is a huge basketball fan who was always glued to the TV whenever a game was on. Moreover, he coached high school and middle school basketball all through my childhood.
When I was 7 or 8, he invited me to help him fill out a bracket for the NCAA tournament. Back then, there was no play in games, so it was just a standard 64 field which had only been around since 1985. By the age of 12, he and I filled out opposing brackets and challenged each other to see who was the better picker. I tended to win because I thought outside the box. My dad creates the type of bracket with all number one seeds in the Final Four. At the age of 15, I started playing bracket pools online and with my friends. I even ran an underground pool out of my locker at school. NCAA pools are largely illegal, but no one bats an eye. I am sure plenty of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials partake in the pool madness as well. If you are betting money, you are gambling, and that’s a big no-no!
I attended Gonzaga University, which consistently made the tournament, so I have a hard time not picking them to go far. In college and a in few years since, I chose poorly and picked them to win it all. I have learned my lesson. The last few years, life has gotten in the way, so I haven’t been able to consume as much of the tournament as I would like, but I do fill in a few brackets. I probably pick three or four different brackets each year.
My Final Four this year is probably going to suck. The last few years, I have only correctly predicted one national champion, and I have usually only gotten two Final Four teams each year. My predictions are Syracuse, Michigan State, Michigan, and Arizona. I have Michigan beating Syracuse in the championship. This is definitely a college basketball purist’s dream. Two storied programs going head to head. I really hate the SEC, so that bias always plays in to how I pick. With Florida being a number 1 seed, I had to find a way to get them out. I have them losing to number 5, VCU. I also wish I could trust number 1 seed and underdog, Wichita State. They went undefeated in the regular season, but they play in a mid major conference, so you have to weigh that against them.
I feel so connected to family and life during this time even with my father being so far away. Even with my father’s inability to embrace my transition, I continue this ritual in honor of my love for him.