(Basketball and chasing women: an analogy of importance)
I plan on writing a lot on this subject, so I’ll keep this preface short; hopefully concise.
I love basketball… A lot. Sometimes it is hard for me to convey that love. In March, during the greatest tournament in the world, it is especially hard. I’ve wanted to try for a while, to somehow articulate the excitement that I feel–that I know most dudes feel. So… I thought on it. I thought and came upon this:
What do most guys love as much as March Madness, maybe even a little more? Women
How are March Madness and women similar? It takes at least five rounds to win the title
Can I equate “chasing women” to the greatest basketball tournament on the planet and somehow convey the greatness of both? Yes.
First, First Round: play-in games
Abstract: This was a recent addition to the tournament, I believe within the last four years. Four teams play two early games to gain entry into the field of 64. It is a welcomed change.
11 seed V 11 seed play-in game. These games are fun, full of offense and scoring. Typically a team like BYU will be in this contest. This year it was Kansas State and Wake Forest. Generally they feature teams that score the rock at a high clip but assume a disdain for defense. If they get hot and win this game, they can present trouble in the actual tournament; for a round or two… They are the attractive girl who breaks up with a longtime boyfriend, sporadically, and decides to go out while they are split. You know they are getting back together, but that night, when you see her, she is single. Her opening round will be impressive. She is thirsty and looking for attention. She enters the bar wearing a sequin napkin. You will be coaxed into false hope because she puts up 90 on the scoreboard. You dig it. You make out over a beer and she tugs it a bit. You think she could be relevant for the rest of the tournament, because she is teasing you. It is false hope. The offense fades. In time, second or third night (round), she goes back to the muscle bound boyfriend (3 seed from a power conference).
Still, this first game is fun.
16 seed V 16 seed play-in game. Who cares. You are letting these teams into the bar because their best friend (1 seed) asked you to. Non-factors. Go home, Mt. Saint Mary’s.
Real First Round Games
Abstract: Wow, this is fun. This first round is a night out with the boys. Everything that can happen, will happen. Blowouts, upsets, and close calls. These are descriptively accurate for both parts of the analogy:
- Teams will blowout other teams, winning by large margins.
- Teams that shouldn’t win do; finding ways to out maneuver more talented, athletic squads–upsets.
- Results will be close, hinging upon crucial final minute decisions–close calls.
- Female/bar analogy:
- Girls will enter the bar looking stunning, exuding overt confidence others could never duplicate. They catch the eyes of every dude able to see. They are fit, tan, and well-dressed. They will incite jealousy. Out of misplaced self-worth, “funny” girls will battle them for male attention. Funny lasts for a few minutes–first TV timeout–then it’s over: blowout.
- Upsets occur when guys drink too much. The more attractive girl was actually into you and wanted to grab pizza after the bar. You’re drunk and a grizzled trainer from LA Fitness (13 seed) bumps you. She lingers. You buy her a shot. Fifteen minutes later you’re in an Uber with Bucknell–upset.
- You’re at the bar and your girlfriend thinks you’re asleep because you work in the morning. You’re leaned up against a wall, exchanging contact information with an olive skinned bartender. Your girl’s roommate is at the bar. You overlooked her, and you’re about to get caught. Then, in the final minutes, one of your boys (senior point guard) who has been there before, takes over and intervenes (steal, hits a three)–close call.
(8 seed V 9 seed) & (7 seed V 10 seed): There are always multiple groups of friends that you and your buddies know. They will be out. Both groups/teams are evenly matched. There are things you like about each squad. It really is a coin flip, and that is exciting.
Groups of girls are controlled by a leader in the similar fashion as teams are directed by their coaches. In these matchups, late game composure usually pulls through. The same way I’m taking a Frank Martin led squad, I’m pursuing the group of girls huddled around an alpha female distributing bottled water and hand sanitzer.
5 see V 12 seed: Without fail, a 12 will win. This is one of the best, most worthwhile matchups of the tournament. It is representative of so much more than just basketball. The outcome can be transcendent. The more talented team from the power conference is loaded with athletes and will feature several players who make it to the next level. But they don’t win. They get beat by team basketball. Five players work as one, employing fortitude and resilience. The 12 seed wins not because they are more skilled, but because they are more selfless and they are more prepared. They are led by upperclassmen who have experience with each other; they have been in the trenches… They are the group of girls that have been going out together since Freshman year. They have a system. They pregame together and they drink together. They have checks and balance, and they work. You are drawn to them because of how they handle themselves: they request good music and they don’t order fireball. They are efficient and cohesive. You root for this team because if you get one to late night, you get them all to late night. They are a squad. Tip of the cap, Mid Tennessee State.
***Didn’t mean for “late night” to sound “rapey”. Referring to an actual after-the-bar house party, with pizza and stuff.
Second Round (32 teams)
Abstract: Things have calmed a bit. There is a little more order and a little more propriety in this round. Opening round noise–shenanigans–fade out. This is good basketball. You’re starting to see a more legitimate and lean assembly of teams. You’re not at the bar and you’ve weeded out most of the THOTS. Most.
The second round is like going to a sporting event with a group of friends. You are there with your boys and girls have been invited. Here, typically, the more gifted team prevails. As it was in the opening round, when upsets and buzzer beaters are commonplace, the mystique of the tournament (liquor) fades and surprise teams falter. The 11 seed you took home, propelled by gumption and late night Tequilla, now bothers you. You see them with more clarity, and less fuzz. Coincidentally she may have fuzz, on her chin, that you missed before. Now you’re sober. You need a second round like this–a sporting event or concert–with friends, to hone in on legitimate talent.
It is special, though, when teams that you’ve overlooked advance in this round.
Noteworthy games from 2017
(1) Villanova V (8) Wisconsin):
- Villanova is the smoke-show, the girl you’ve eyed every time you’ve been out in the past year. Her reputation is impressive and her body looks like it’s been whittled by a woodsman with an affinity for athletic bust. She’s tan and has a look most aptly described as sultry. But she’s not the one. You would never think that at the bar, in the opening round, when you’re drunk and she looks poised to blow your doors off. You’re ready to pencil her into your Final Four… You get to the second round, though, when you take her to a baseball game with the boys, and in the third inning she asks when halftime is… See ya, Villanova.
- Wisconsin is the attractive lady friend of yours that, for whatever reason, you’ve overlooked. She is clean, and smart, and well put together. A few years back, maybe in her early years of college, she went through a phase where she needed to find herself. She found a lot of d*ck instead, but it was just a phase. She’s always been there and she’s always had the talent. In this second round she is standing next to Villanova–currently 30 scrolls deep in her IG newsfeed–when she asks you why there isn’t a DH in the National League. Wisconsin goes to the Sweet Sixteen.
(2) Kentucky V (10) Wichita State: This is fun because you are brought to a crossroads… Do you follow the ex-girlfriend, the one you’ve been on and off with for several years, that is older and that you know so well, or do you pursue the hot young thing that runs off pure talent and doesn’t get caught up in the emotion of the dance? It’s tough. The Tournament is never easy…There is also a history here. Your ex (Wichita State) knows about this new thing. She doesn’t like her. She is creating tension at this concert venue you are at. You are with your friends. Kentucky doesn’t care and isn’t bothered. She is young, super talented, and most of her best features weren’t around the last time Wichita State tussled. In this instance, at this outdoor country show, you watch them both. They vie for your attention. Kentucky is doing things in boots and jean shorts that indicate a high ceiling whereas Wichita State is wearing a sensible flannel that seems to suggest a cuddle. It is a great matchup. In the end, as it had to be, you take the hot young thing and you bring her to the Sweet Sixteen, where you see if she can hold up in contexts demanding of conversational and cultural substance.
Abstract: As a guy, a certain feeling of giddiness forms in you when you find a lady that you think may be special. You don’t usually verbalize it, because most guys don’t say words derived from “giddy”, but the feeling is there. Through the first two rounds of filtering–bar conduct and personality vetting–you’ve come across a team that may have what it takes. This is a fun time and a special round because now you get to see the real substance of your team (her). You get to find new things that may have been hidden in the early rounds but will surely be outed now… Again, this analogous comparison works both ways:
- Basketball Team:
- Do they have depth?
- Do they have stamina?
- Do they pursue loose balls?
- Do they defend against the back door?
- Does she have depth?
- Does she have stamina?
- Does she pursue loose balls?
- Does she defend against the back door?
Noteworthy Games from 2017
(1) Gonzaga V (4) West Virginia: This game was an amazing test of perseverance and determination. If there were chinks in either team’s armor, they would have been outed here. If she was attractive, and fun, and amazing in bed,but a closet racist, you would have found out in this round… Gonzaga is the girl you are seriously crushing on but you are waiting for her flaw. In this game, you brought the Zags (her) to a large family gathering (West Virginia), and you left her alone. Forty minutes later, after conversation with your senile uncle who served in Nam and your Grandma set on childbirth timelines, she survived. Survive and advance.
Abstract: Things are coming down to the end. From this round on you will only be watching elite teams.
They are elite and full of talent, or they have masked their discrepancies and are on what we call Cinderella run. Cinderellas are fun to get behind, until you figure them out. Then, they get annoying. They ruin things for more deserving teams, like Arizona. You took Xavier to the beach (Elite Eight) because Zona wasn’t comfortable experimenting with safe words and ice cubes.
Cinderellas do not make it past this round–excluding VCU and George Mason anomalies. Xavier went with you to the beach, where they didn’t belong, and was dismantled. She bought E off the lifeguard and passed out before the first TV timeout. Beat it, Xavier. Only teams with character get past this round.
The real magic of the Elite Eight lies in watching teams battle fatigue and opposing matchups. This deep in the tournament, you will have a pretty good feel for every team and you will know their strengths. It will be high quality and typically even competition. There isn’t much left to surprise you.
Noteworthy Game of 2017
(1) UNC V (2/) Kentucky: You’re on the same beach trip except you’re with someone you believe to be the real thing; not an error in judgement like Xavier. You took Kentucky, because of her upside. She is young, and it was a risk, but what she can do in the open court was something you couldn’t overlook.
Things start out great. You’re having a blast with Kentucky. So far this round at the beach has been an amazing experience. But then things slowly digress. Going up against a distant, secluded seven day resort beach trip (UNC), little annoyances of her youth start to expose themselves. In the crunch time of the trip, when you paid top dollar for activities like snorkeling and para-sailing, she is snapchatting. She is doing things young girls do. It’s annoying. It starts to taint her physical features that play at an NBA level. But still, you almost get through it, because she is gas. At the last minute, though, when you think you have made it and it’s your final day at the beach, she grabs your phone for one more hot tub selfie. She puckers her lips and drops the phone. The water (Luke May) destroys it. Youth killed it.
Abstract: All four teams left can win. This is the best of the best. The cream of the crop. The (insert favorite cliché here). This is the pinnacle of the tournament and, excluding first round excitement, the best part.
It’s the best because if she made it this far, she can win it all. She can and she deserves to. All four teams, at this stage, deserve to win. Now you just need to hone in on each one and let the cards fall as they may. All four are worthy, so take a closer look and make your pick.
Final Four Team Preview 2017
(7) South Carolina: People want to call her a Cinderella. That would be dumb. She is as talented as they come.
This girl won’t take shit. You can take her anywhere and you don’t have to worry about her getting her hands dirty. She can probably dress a deer and gut a fish. She plays defense. Serious defense. She is the real deal, and it’s a little scary. She may murder an ex-girlfriend who makes a habit of drunk dialing you. That’s ok, because she is hot, and kind of exotic.
(3) Oregon: She is fast-action and she’s on the move. Things will never be dull with her. Your friends will love her because she is just the right kind of fun and just the right kind of smart. Her best features are her personality (Dillan Brooks) and her charisma (Tyler Dorsey). You will love her, until you realize her two best features, Dillan Brooks and Tyler Dorsey, are very similar. It won’t work. She is almost perfect; just missing a little bit of grit (rim protection/injured center Chris Boucher).
(1) North Carolina: She is probably the most attractive girl you know. You’ve known her for a long time, so you know she is fun, sweet, and smart, not to mention gorgeous. She seems to have it all. But you can’t shake the fact that she got dumped by your best friend (Duke) twice this year. You try not to get held up on that, but your inner monologue persists. She can’t be the one if she lost to Duke twice this year, right?
(1) Gonzaga: This chick does not have a visible blemish. Some ask why she is still single, if she is so good, but that is only because she is from a small town and never faced any worthy competition (WCC). Your friends are quick to discredit her because she is a little older and she is still single. But she has been a career oriented woman who has been getting her ducks in a row (intentional: they beat Oregon in the finals). Her resume is complete. She is stunning and she is classy. She is educated but she parties. She is special. Gonzaga is the one.
Gonzaga. Pick Gonzaga.