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Monday, March 14, 2011

The Hater’s Guide to March Madness and/or I Hate College Basketball

Houston, we have a ZZzzzblem.

I’m going to let you all in on a secret: college basketball season starts in November.

I’ll give you a sec to wipe off the drapes because your mind just exploded.

Yeah, it’s true! College basketball DOES exist outside of the month of March. Could’ve fooled me. I cannot think of any other sport that is so heavily focused on such a small portion of its season. That one month though! Seems like all of a sudden you can’t escape it. Perhaps that’s the point. The powers that be realized long ago that college basketball is the lamest major college sport and decided to just commoditize the shit out of its post season in hopes of attracting more mainstream acceptance. There is no doubt in my mind that the NCAA went down to Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce one sunny afternoon wearing their finest fedoras and simply said, “Don, tell us what we want.”

Don replied, “Tell me, what is your dream?”

No one responded so Don angrily put out his Lucky and said with a little more purpose, “What is your dream? You must have a dream damnit! My dream is to live past 50 but my lifestyle choices are so very poor it seems unattainable. So I ask you again, WHAT IS YOUR DREAM?”

Jerry, the pudgy guy, who was cut from his high school’s JV team on the first day of practice despite only 8 boys even trying out, gingerly spoke up. “W-well sir, MY dr-“

“Don’t worry fat man, your dream will certainly never come true.” Don was tired; he hadn’t slept the night before. Midge had kept him up all night with her homely features. “Your dream, gentlemen, is to be the greatest sporting event ever to sell commercial airtime. How do you do that you ask? Simple. Sell a dream. Sell the idea that anyone is capable of winning the national championship. Every school in the field, no matter where they’re from or who they’re playing against, has a chance to win it all. All it takes is belief. How does the common man believe? They watch the games, they fill out a bracket, they Google all the schools they've never heard of on their iPad while they sit on the couch drinking the beer sponsor of YOUR choosing. That is your dream, gentlemen. Come back when you are ready to realize that dream.” 

Don then stormed out of the conference room towards his office where that one doctor lady with nice hair was waiting with some annoying woman problem for him to have no patience for.

That is how the NCAA tournament was born, verbatim.

Let’s talk about brackets. Fuck brackets. Every idiot with a computer or a job all of a sudden thinks they are Mr./Mrs. Basketball Genius once the match-ups are announced. They spend 10 minutes filling out their bracket on a whim, tell everyone it took them hours of research to figure out and submit it to a pool of other like-minded rubes in hopes of winning like maybe $200 or something. In reality, they just want to win in hopes that the fools they managed to beat think them to possess some modicum of wisdom but they only tell that to their therapists. Please, spare me the reasoning behind your picks because they are bullshit and your level of analytical insight is likely akin to Taylor Swift explaining string theory. Also, God help me if you use the words “Cinderella,” “dark horse,” or “bracket buster.”

Speaking of Cinderella, I hate Cinderellas.

People often point to the NCAA Basketball Tournament as a model by which college football’s post-season may be made better. It’s egalitarian, the best team always wins, blah blah blah. I do not understand this logic. In a playoff or tournament scenario the best team has absolutely no advantage. Like I so ineloquently pointed out before, the real sell of the tournament format is the belief that any team can win, not the best team. The best team would beat every other team if they played but in a tournament, the champion might only play one or two top-level teams. If only there was a way to determine which team is best by having moderately sized leagues where every team play every other team over the course of the season and the team with the best performance is declared champion. If only there were a way!

Oh wait, almost every decent soccer league in the world does that. Go figure.

There is an ages old debate amongst some of the more unbearable sports fans as to whether amateur or professional sports are more enjoyable. This matter is too complicated for me to even fathom. I mean, it is up there with apples/oranges, Mid East Peace, and Hot/Not as most complicated debates of all-time so I won’t get into it. What I do know is that college basketball is SERIOUSLY amateurish. Like, almost none of those dudes will ever play in the NBA. Fewer still will have meaningful NBA careers. The NBA age minimum is the worst thing to ever happen to college basketball’s amateurism and by extension, the Tournament. It is your showcase event and maybe two players in the Final Four will ever see the dotted line on an NBA contract. Compelling! Nothing like watching a bunch of future commodities traders battle it out on the hardwood.

Some Miscellaneous Hate to End

A) Your important-ass event takes place in the middle of the day! How can I take you serious when half of the games are played during the workday? I can’t. I won’t.
B) This year they are introducing a new format with more teams and I legitimately have no idea how it works.

By the way, you can join the Official (it is not official) Videogum Monster Tournament Challenge HERE. As always, you can bring your beef with me to the comments, to @_wwwest on twitter or to my inbox with Just be warned, I ain’t got no grill so we’ll have to sauté that beef.


  1. Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwest! I agree with almost every sentiment here, but those are all the reasons I love March Madness! I love talking shit about my bracket, knowing that I (and every other person, no matter what) sat down on Sunday night, picked who I wanted to win it all, then just kind of clicked other stuff to fill in the holes. Also, I live in Chapel Hill so people take it really seriously. I love going to a bar on my lunch break and watching like 15 games at once.

    Also, re: your soccer example. Yes, decent leagues declare a winner based on overall record and performance over a season, but none of them can compete with the excitement and hype of the World Cup which is, yes, a single elimination tournament. It's exciting!

    It's electric, wwwest, boogie woogie woogie.

  2. Wwwest- don't forget about this:

    36 points in an actual basketball game.