March always gets the best of me. No matter how I try not to succumb to hours and days and weeks of college basketball, I usually fail. From St. Patrick’s Day until the first full week of April, I get lost in the brackets, checking CBS Sportsline, flipping channels, and my mental calendar becomes a blur of NIT, NCAA men and NCAA women’s games. It’s surprising I can utter a complete sentence by the time the championship buzzer sounds.
In a nutshell, here was my March:
It always begins with the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Delano. Some might not agree this is a sport, but you try surviving an early morning of Bloody Mary and Mimosa’s and attempt to ride a bicycle down a very narrow street with a hundred other incapacitated loons wearing green. The goal is always A) don’t crash, B) don’t run over any small children innocently watching the parade, C) if you do crash, wait until we’ve at least made it through a pint or two of Guinness at the Shamrock. Trust me, this is a marathon of sorts. And it gets tougher every year.
These are my two 2011 brackets. One with UConn going all the way and the other with my sentimental favorite, San Diego State. Note I picked two teams who the Shockers played, two games in which I paid serious attention to the opponent. I figured it was Steve Fisher’s time to win with his own recruits and have always cheered the Aztecs, so picking SDSU made sense to me. As for UConn, I witnessed the talent that is Kemba Walker, plus I watched Lamb and Napier bloom. Anyone who watched them win the Big East tournament in five games knew they could continue the run. And they did. While the championship game was a definite struggle to watch and enjoy, our annual Bracket Weekend in Overland Park, Kans., with my family did not disappoint.
We took over the Buffalo Wild Wings for the fifth year in a row, arriving at 10:00 am to find tables reserved for us. The management can’t resist a family who spends 10-12 hours in a bar to watch basketball, especially when that family includes the 78-year-old parents.
Yes, that’s my mother drinking a beer. Dr. Oz says she can have one beer a day, but since she rarely drinks, we figured Dr. Oz would be okay with her having two. She also dominated the BWW brackets with the most wins up until Duke lost. Our Bracket Weekend has replaced our long trips to NCAA Midwest Regionals and includes many cousins and friends who couldn’t make the tournament trips. There’s lots of trash-talking, bracket burning, beer drinking, walks to Wal-Mart for snacks or just to awaken our bar stool numb butts, sleeping bags strewn about my brother’s house, and a whole lot of fun.
So, while I picked UConn to win the whole thing, my bracket pretty much blew up when VCU and Butler entered the mix. I wasn’t alone. As for the women’s Final Four, it was awesome. How could it not be with the Lady Volunteers and the Huskies tossed out of the championship game? I have great respect for both programs, but it was great for women’s college basketball to have two different teams battling for the title. Four schools have dominated the women’s Final Four: Connecticut, Stanford, Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. These four schools have won 19 of the 30 women’s championships. So it was exciting and refreshing to watch Texas A&M, standing on the very broad shoulders of Danielle Adams, versus Notre Dame, steered by the talented Skylar Diggins. It also helped my dad and I were able to attend the first rounds at Intrust Bank arena, the game between the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Michigan State (by the way, Mike R., I cheered for your Spartans to no avail).
Of course, there was the NIT and my Wichita State Shockers. Oh, and the celebration…
One of my favorite things about the NIT celebration at Koch was “The Dude” shirt worn by Garrett Stutz. Someone hand me a White Russian.
All in all, it was another memorable March. Very memorable. I will now catch my breath as the Bulls have reached 60 wins, are top of the central standings and headed to the playoffs. And baseball season has opened, complete with questionable starts by the Cubs, Giants, and Shockers. But as I’ve learned to say since Opening Day, we have a long way to go.