Let’s just get this out of the way now. I don’t know a whole lot about NCAA basketball. I enjoy it, sometimes greatly, but I cannot claim to be anything approaching an expert on the sport. Because of this, I sometimes find it hard to really care about March Madness. I’m one of those sports fans that needs to have a vested interest in a specific team to get really deep into it. I dig emotional stress, what can I say? It’s why I’m currently trying to pick an EPL team to cheer for. I like soccer, but I need something to be disappointed by, I guess.
I’m sure I can’t be alone in this, as half the fun of sports is getting way too wound up about a game. The emotional roller coaster that is March Madness plays to this particularly well. Having a vested interest in one of those “seven lead changes in 13 seconds before Gus Johnson loses his mind at the buzzer” games is truly one of the great things that can happen to a sports fan.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that, each year, I pick a team to root for in March Madness. Sometimes this lasts a day and my interest in the rest of the tournament wanes and sometimes it takes me all the way through to the championship game. I have not cared more about a team that I don’t care about than I did for the 2010 Butler Bulldogs. Let’s hope this is one of those years. Anyway, here’s some tips on how to pick a team to root for in the tournament.
I don’t want to encourage any untoward activity but gambling can be a powerful force for getting yourself to care about March Madness. Have you gambled throughout the NCAA basketball season? If so, have you gambled on one team three or more times? And, more importantly, did said team win you any money? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” you’ve found your team. This is how I got attached to the aforementioned Butler Bulldogs a few years back. It’s not the smoothest method, but it’s effective and you don’t have to learn anything. Just try to block out the fact that you’re gambling on a bunch of 19-year-olds.
2. Team Names
I don’t know if you know this but NCAA teams have some weird-ass nicknames. Did you know that Saint Louis’ team name is the Billikens? And this…thing is their logo. How does the James Madison Dukes grab you? The New Mexico Lobos? The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers? The Akron Zips? There are so many of these. Pick your favorite, there’s your team.
We discussed team names but NCAA schools seem to have as many great logos as names. Oregon State is not in the tournament but with a logo like this, I sure wish they were. Look at that stupid thing. It’s amazing. This little guy represents the Creighton Bluejays (yes, it’s all one word. I don’t know). Their hats also double as a Chicago Bears hat. That’s efficiency. Check out Northwestern State’s logo. That thing is absolutely incredible. Yes, their team name is the Demons. For some reason, the Akron Zips’ logo is a Kangaroo and so this exists. Gifts that keep on giving, really. The NCAA is basically doing your job for you.
4. Track A Player For Non-Basketball Reasons
This one is a little harder to do in the days directly preceding the tournament but is a good way to get attached. We here at theScore offices are big fans of Anthony Bennett over at UNLV mostly for the simple fact that he happens to be a Canadian. He also happens to be quite excellent at basketball. Pick a player to keep track of and get attached to for reasons that have nothing to do with basketball. If said player also happens to be on a really good team, then you’ve found your rooting interest. It’s really not that hard, guys.
5. Don’t Pick Duke
Seriously. Just don’t.
For all of the reasons I just listed, I’ll be following UNLV for this year’s tournament. They fit all of my criteria. Their team name is the Runnin’ Rebels (yes, the apostrophe is part of their name) and this guy is their logo. Add in Anthony Bennett and the fact that they are not Duke and I’ve found myself a team to get emotionally attached to. Can’t wait for you to break my heart, UNLV. Bring on the Madness.