Culture of Hoops

March Madness: Lessons From Last Weekend

In no particular order, here are my ten favorite weekends of the year:

Onion Festival weekend
First weekend of March Madness
Thanksgiving weekend
Millionaire’s Weekend
The annual weekend when my friends from New York come down to visit
My birthday weekend
Any weekend during the NBA Playoffs
Any time Christmas lands on a weekend
First NFL weekend
Super Bowl Sunday weekend

Just so everyone is on the same page: Onion Festival weekend is the first weekend of August in my home town of Elba, New York. Millionaire’s Weekend is when the Final Four and WrestleMania take place on the same weekend. My birthday is February 20th, so feel free to send along any gifts or birthday shout outs around birthday weekend next year. And by any weekend during the NBA Playoffs, I mean every day during the NBA Playoffs.

Anyway, I got a two for one special last weekend as my friends from New York, Collin and Phil (technically my cousin, but whatever) made the trip down to Florida to hang out with me and some Florida friends, Weston and Bronson (who once was a New York friend, but whatever) during the first weekend of March Madness. With great confidence I can say that this four day stretch was arguably the most fun and memorable of my entire life, and even better, it turned out to be extremely informative. I learned quite a few lessons, both about March Madness and about life, and if you would afford me the time I’d love to share them with you.

Don’t forget how bad you are at filling out a March Madness bracket

And even more importantly, just give up on the idea of ever being good at it. It won’t happen. About fourteen people every year will come really damn close to picking a solid bracket. Everyone else will just suck all kinds of suck at this for their entire life. It doesn’t matter if you watch every regular season game, no regular season games, pick the games based on uniform color or if you’re a Goddamn clairvoyant… the sooner you accept the fact that the whole idea of filling out brackets is Forrest Gump level stupid, the more you’ll enjoy March Madness. And with that said, make sure you check back next March for my March Madness Manifesto, Version 3.0, which will consist of an embedded YouTube video of yours truly attempting to speak Mandarin, and doing a whole lot better at that than filling out a tournament bracket.

Don’t gamble

Holy crap, the boys took a beating this weekend, let me tell you. We pooled together some money for the festivities, thinking we’d go at least 50 percent on our bets, maybe cash in on a long shot (we had the Belmont and Buffalo moneylines) and it would make the games all the more interesting. Would you believe me if I told you we didn’t connect on one single bet? A 30 for 30 is going to be made of our betting missteps someday soon. I’ve been on the horn with some possible directors. And a bonus tip: Don’t ever, ever bet parlays.

If you’re looking to compliment a girl, tell her you like her shoes

Baller Mind Frame’s very own TJ Macias disagrees with this one, but I was there and I can tell you it works. Of course, you shouldn’t forget that all five of us guys are in committed relationships, we didn’t make any attempts to legitimately hit on any girl, and for at least 75 percent of the time we were awake for this trip we were intoxicated. So there is a very real chance that the “Awe thanks” we received from the majority of the girls who walked by was just a terrified reaction to hearing five drunken idiots screaming in unison “Hey! I like your shoes!” from ten feet away.

Referees are evil

The evidence:

Do I even need to tell you that we had the SMU moneyline?

Heat games aren’t nearly as big of a deal now as they were for the last four years

I know this for a fact and I didn’t even go to a game this weekend. I was however at Bayside right before the game and there was absolutely no sense of urgency from anyone there. Nobody gave a crap and nobody was wearing jersey’s! No lie, I saw four Heat jersey’s at Bayside from 3 pm to 5 pm, and I know there were exactly four because I knew beforehand that it would be a lower number than I was used to and I wanted to make sure I had an exact number. There were two Dwyane Wade jersey’s, one LeBron James jersey and one Ray Allen jersey. You couldn’t have gotten those people to care about a basketball game, even for only Dos Minutos!

Girls who go to the University of Kentucky are very attractive

At least the ones who were at Fort Myers Beach last weekend were. Go Cats!

When you peg someone as a potential Cinderella team, make sure you have the stones to advance them past the first weekend of the tournament.

Whatever you do, don’t go the other way and pick them to lose in Round 2 to a team you pick to lose in the Final Four … like I did. Yup, the only person that the outcome of the North Carolina State/Villanova game bummed out more than me was my friend Collin, who has been a Nova fan since before Allan Ray lost his eye. Luckily, Collin had just put back a 36 oz. Mojito when Nova went down, so the sting of that loss was momentarily eased.

If you have to call in sick to work three days in a row to continue partying, you do it

We’ll call this one the Bronson Cole Corollary. This one is even more spectacular because each day it was a game time decision for Bronson. Just an unprecedented series of power plays. My personal favorite Bronson sick-call: after getting back from Miami Beach at 6 am, he had to leave the hotel by 7:30 to make it to work on time. At about 8 am there was a knock on the door … it was Bronson, who said to me “I’m not driving to work, that’s just not a good idea,” as he sauntered past me, stepped over Collin who was sleeping on the floor, and planted himself face-first on the bed. One heck of a moment.

Big 12 = Bad, ACC = Good

Pop quiz, hotshot! Guess which Big 12 team blew a parlay for us: Baylor or Iowa State. Stay tuned for the answer.

Almost everybody bought into the Big 12 hype. The Selection Committee did (seriously, four of the top 12 teams in the tournament field were from the Big 12 and exactly one is left standing). I definitely did. Our group did to a degree. My cousin Phil called it though. He claimed that because the Big 12 teams beat up on each other whole lot of entertaining games during the regular season, that it created the illusion that the league was stacked with talent. He even begged us to consider putting some money on Georgia State over Baylor. We didn’t listen. Instead, I talked him into throwing Iowa State into a parlay. And remember kids, don’t ever bet parlays.

Correct answer: Iowa State.

On the flip side, the ACC has five teams in the final sixteen and at least one alive in each region. They’ll have at least one team in the Elite Eight (the Louisville/North Carolina State winner) and I expect Duke and Notre Dame to be there too. Virginia was the only ACC team to lose on the first weekend, and that’s because they crossed paths with a March Madness God.

Tom Izzo is a March Madness God

Izzo’s Spartans haven’t won a title since 2000, but in the fifteen years since Izzo has only been bounced in the first weekend of the tournament five times. In that same time span, he’s been to six Elite Eight’s (two more than Mike Krzyzewski) and three Final Four’s (as many as Mike Krzyzewski). He’s an absolute magician in the tourney, consistently overachieving and getting more out of his players than any other coach probably ever has (since 2001 Izzo’s only had four All-Americans- Charlie Bell, Jason Richardson, Drew Neitzel and Draymond Green). At least we were smart enough not to bet against Izzo. I even had the wits about me to pick Michigan State to advance past Virginia in Round 2. And now, I’m prepared to pencil Michigan State into the Final Four. All hail Tom Izzo.

Don’t mix alcohol and energy drinks

I need to try explain to all inexperienced drinkers, or drinkers who don’t have any regard for their well-being, how important this is. In theory, the idea of mixing alcohol with energy drinks is a good one. After all, the purpose of drinking is to get drunk (or something like that) and the purpose of energy drinks is to stay awake. When you combine the two, it usually means you end up drinking for a longer period of time than your body would normally allow, and that means you get drunker.

Please just re-read the previous two sentences.

Now, think about how fricking psychotic you have to be to put your body through that.

Energy drinks are horrible for you to begin with. They screw up your heart and just about every other vital organ in your body. The same can be said for alcohol when it’s ingested in heavy doses. You know what happens when you put back dozens of Bacardi Limon and Monster’s and Vodka and Red Bull’s on back to back nights? A-Fib. Or luckily in my case, a three day hangover. I’m probably lucky I’m alive right now.

If a former NFL player decides he wants to use your head as a cushion for his upper body while grinding with his girl, you encourage him to keep dancing

And then you and your friend spend the next hour talking with him and incorporating yourself into his friend group. You most definitely encourage your friend to buy him a Hennessy and Sprite too.

Image Courtesy of Weston Hunter/Facebook

Image Courtesy of Weston Hunter/Facebook

If you can get bottle service in the same exact spot that three Miami Heat players got it the previous night, you should definitely do that

I don’t just mean the same bar… I mean the same exact table on the roof at The Clevelander in Miami Beach. As my friend Bronson told me later, “The Miami hype is real.” That’s certainly the case when you have your own personal cocktail waitress, security guard, DJ and cigar girl.

Cinderella runs are best if they end the first weekend

I’ve argued against this point before, but this weekend swung me the other way. As far as I’m concerned this was one of the best first March Madness weekends ever, and it’s even set up for what could potentially be an all-time great second weekend. The “Cinderella’s” left alive consist of an 11 seed with serious pedigree (UCLA), a dangerous eight seed that has defeated three of the other fifteen teams left in the tournament (NC State), a seven seed led by a coaching God (Michigan State), and a seven seed that was undefeated last season and went 30-4 during the regular season (Wichita State).

Maybe I’m a hypocrite considering I’m a graduate of the one fifteen seed that’s ever advanced to the Sweet Sixteen (Go Eagles!), but I don’t think the tournament would be better now if Georgia State or UAB were still alive in the Sweet Sixteen. No offense to either school, but nine times out of ten there is an expiration date for a Cinderella run.

The story is the same for Spring Break trips like the one me, Collin, Phil, Weston and Bronson took last weekend. The fact that we were getting bottle service in the de facto VIP spot at The Clevelander was the biggest Cinderella story of the weekend, and just like Cinderella runs in the NCAA Tournament, our Cinderella run had an expiration date. Just like Georgia State and UAB, our Cinderella run ended at the absolute perfect time. Because, ya know, A-Fib isn’t something you want to mess with.

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