The month of March is slowly coming to an end so does its Madness that tags a long with it. 68 teams started their quest to a National Title just two short weeks ago. Now after overtimes, buzzer beaters, and upsets we have trimmed the field down to four. This weekend those four teams will play basketball in a 100,000 seated football stadium where there is maybe 100 good seats that all go to corporate sponsors and the true basketball fans get to pay hundreds of dollars to sit in god awful seats where you are watching the big screen throughout the game. But hey, the NCAA is all about the students not the billions of dollars they make each year off just the tournament.
I am no Jay Bilas or Jay Williams, I can’t give you an in-depth breakdown of each team. As of the last few years the only college basketball I watch is come conference tournament time and beyond. However, I may not be able to give you a breakdown of each team but I can give you the keys to faking your way through a basketball conversation. Faking basketball conversations is what everyone does best this time of year. I used to hate it but now I just laugh at how hard people try to sound smarter than they really are. As much as I hate it i do it all the time as well especially come March. The last thing you want to do is sound like a complete idiot at the bar or at some party watching the games. Here below is a quick guide to each team, so you can effectively fake your way through this weekend.
North Carolina-1 seed
We are going to start with the highest seed. Incase you guys didn’t know they were also in the National Championship last year and lost on a heartbreaker. Whatever you do, DO NOT pull the “They lost at the last second last year so they are really going to want it this year.” That is the worst thing you can do. Think about it, why wouldn’t they want it? Why wouldn’t Oregon want it? Or Gonzaga or South Carolina? Do you think Oregon is like “Ehhh this is fun and all but I’m not feeling it right now because we didn’t lose at the last second last year.” NO that is dumb! Here is what you say when it comes to Carolina. Talk about the possible tough break they may have with their point guard Joel Berry. Joel Berry has terrible ankles, but normally he injures his right ankle. Last weekend against Kentucky he hurt his left ankle which can be a cause for concern. Talk about how cool it is that North Carolina is the first school to make it to 20 final fours. Also big one here, mention the matchup problem with Justin Jackson guarding Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey. Justin Jackson is 6-8 Tyler Dorsey is 6-3. Same matchup problem that Kentucky’s Malik Monk faced last weekend against the Tar Heels. Talk about how Roy refuses to call time-outs regardless of how bad his team is playing. I swear UNC could have blown a 20 point lead and the guy still doesn’t call timeouts. Wait, that happened against Duke this year didn’t it? You can bring that up as well. Finally, talk about how a former walk-on in Luke Maye LOVES to shoot the ball. Regardless of the situation or who is on the floor Luke has balls of steel when it comes to his shot selection. He may be a walk on but he has the mindset of JR Smith. Ohh since his name was mentioned, drop the fun-fact JR Smith was supposed to be on that 2005 UNC National Championship team until he decided to go pro.
Trying to start-up sports related conversation about anything Oregon is one of the easiest thing in the world. Just bring up how obnoxious their uniforms are. If you like them go on and on about how cool they are. If you hate them just mention how candy ass they are and how you hate Oregon because of their uniforms. Talk about Phil Knight, talk about how happy he will be to see the school that he has dumped billions of dollars into, finally win a championship. Side-note, it was rumored Phil Knight was willing to pay $10 million a year for a football coach to win a championship. That is how bad Phil wants to see a championship brought back to Eugene. Mention how Dana Altman has had success everywhere he has been and how he coached Kyle Korver in college. Fun fact for you, Dana Altman once beat Billy Donovan while at Creighton. Talk about how Payton Pritchard reminds you of Aaron Craft, not because he is white point guard on a final for team, but because of his gritty defense obviously. Mention how Tyler Dorsey is low-key having a Kemba type tournament and if Oregon wins it all he will be the MVP. Talk about how surprised you are that Oregon is playing so well after Chris Boucher injured his leg in the Pac 12 tournament. While on the subject of Boucher mention how Jordan Bell has truly stepped up when his team needed him. Also it is pronounced like Adam Sandlers character in the WaterBoyFun Fact, Oregon originally wanted to hire Gonzaga coach Mark Few, Few did not want the job which led to the hire of Dana Altman.
Start off the conversation about how happy you are for Mark Few to finally make a Final Four. A lot of people don’t know this, Gonzaga had its coming out party in the 98-99 season where they made it to the Elite Eight where they lost to eventual champion UCONN. Mark Few was not the head coach for that team, it was Dan Monson who after that season took a job at Minnesota where things did not work out. Monson has bounced around to different coaching jobs and is now at Long Beach State. A lot of people do not know this they just assume Mark Few has been the head coach forever, so if you drop this bomb you will be sure to impress people. Gonzaga’s most famous alum is John Stockton, and for fun his son also played at Gonzaga. Mention how you wish Domantas Sabonis would have stayed one more year then quickly mention how his dad was a 28-year-old rookie in the NBA, he was drafted by the Blazers by the way. Talk about how Gonzaga gets a lot of foreign players and also how unique St. Marys gym is and that makes it tougher for a road team to play in. If you don’t know St. Marys home court is like the equivalent to a high school gym. Finally, when in doubt mention how Gonzaga is effected by the medias east coast bias.
South Carolina can be tough and it can be easy. It can be tough because no one knows anything about South Carolina, but it can be easy because no one knows anything about South Carolina. Talk about how incredible their run has been and mention how great they are defensively. Frank Martin came from Cuba and bounced around from job to job including gigs as a dishwasher and a bouncer. Remind people he was almost shot as a bouncer which made him change his life to eventually becoming a basketball coach. Poke some fun at Kansas State for letting him go and now being stuck with Bruce Weber. Rave about how PJ Dozier stayed home to play for the Gamecocks and while doing that mention how his older sister played on the women’s team that made the Final Four a few years back. Sindarius Thornwell has been the catalyst for this team offensively and is also very quietly having a Kemba like tournament. Fun fact for everyone, because of the HB2 bill in North Carolina the NCAA pulled out of North Carolina for all post season events including the NCAA tournament. Greensboro, North Carolina was supposed to be a host site for the first and second round matchups, those games were moved to Greenville, South Carolina which turned out to be a virtual home game for the Gamecocks. Who knows what would have happened if the NCAA did not act on the HB2 bill.
Remember, if you can fake it you can make it. Make sure you just stick to this script and don’t get fancy. Because I feel obligated to give my picks I have North Carolina winning it all over Gonzaga. Why? Because of all the reasons above.