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  • Fiona Turnbull

Mad for March Madness

Picture this. It’s 11:00 pm on Super Bowl Sunday, and it’s not looking good. The Bengals have just lost, Joe Burrow’s holding back tears, and it’s officially the end of my 1:00 pm on a Sunday routine. Suddenly, I shoot up in my seat. Hope is not lost!!! Slowly but surely I begin to picture refreshing my ESPN tab, shouting at the TV and convincing myself I’d be a better basketball player than Paolo Banchero. All while placing 14 millionth in the general tournament. In just four short weeks, March Madness would be upon us.

As I write this blog, it’s a mere 10 days until this becomes a reality. It’s important that our community knows that bracket-making is NOT reserved for the more passionate fans of college basketball. Brackets are for everyone. When I sit down to make my annual bracket, I park myself at the kitchen counter and methodically select my pick for each game. Rarely do I look at any actual numbers or statistics, rather whose logo I find more attractive or what location I like better. There is, however, one exception to my somewhat random choices. UVA men's basketball will always, always go all the way.

Let me take you back to 2019. Tony Bennett’s 10th year. Kihei Clark, who just had his senior game, was a starting freshman. It was 16-0, until a 72-70 loss to Duke. Then UVA went 16-2 in the ACC and won its fourth title in the past six years. The team made it to the Elite 8, beat Oregon, then Purdue. Now, it was the Final Four. UVA played Auburn, and Kyle Guy, the star, the champion, the hero, now-NBA player, made a last second free throw to win it 63-62. It was UVA’s first ever appearance in the national championship (a brief shoutout to VAMUN for providing me with abundant UVA t-shirts). The sixth day of April, in the 2019th year, the University of Virginia beat Texas Tech in overtime to win its first ever national championship. Let it also be stated that the bracket I made for the crew team that year had chosen UVA basketball. Not because I knew their stats, chances, or even really players. But because I liked them. And then we won it all.

Now, if this makes you smile even just a little bit, let me help you take the first steps to becoming a March Madness enthusiast. First, pick a team. Any team. Just someone to root for, to choose, to watch, to love to will to go all the way. Then, force your friends to join a bracket and spend time making your picks, no matter how you choose. Learn to scour your inbox for the ESPN emails. Finally, you have to care. Find players' Instagrams. Go down rabbit holes. Become mad about March Madness. It’s pure joy, and once you start, you won’t stop.

Lots of love,

Fiona (March Madness Enthusiast and Bracket Expert)



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