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Zuba: Prepare for the Madness

| Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It’s that awkward time of the year.

March Madness hasn’t started yet. The NFL draft is more than a month off. You won’t see NBA or Stanley Cup playoff action until April. MLB spring training is underway, but the season hasn’t started yet, and there are only so many injury updates a person can read.

It’s the calm before the sports insanity. Tomorrow, March Madness will hit, relieving American sports fans who don’t watch soccer of their boredom.

I know you can’t wait. But be prepared to pace yourself. For a while, you’ll just have March Madness to focus on. It’s like that one big exam that you ditch all of your other classwork for.

But it’s also that one midterm placed a week before your other four. Soon, you’ll have more than enough to handle.

It’s OK. You can stay focused and sane once April comes, and the sports world starts buzzing. I mean really buzzing, not just the trade rumors and chatter about a possible Tim Tebow comeback that fill air time when there’s nothing actually happening to talk about.

The key is to prioritize. March Madness is a great time to practice before you split your attention among multiple sports.

Some people seem to watch the entirety of every notable March Madness upset. They show up at work or in class, gushing about key moments in the upset, and you’re like, “How did they think ahead to watch that awful-sounding matchup? Didn’t they have a finance exam to study for anyway?”

You can only tune in for so many games, so what do you do?

Just watch SportsCenter afterward. Then you know a little bit about a lot of games, like an encyclopedia. It’s likely what some of even your most knowledgeable friends did anyway.

Or you can try selecting games to watch out of a hat. Spending your time trying to logically determine which games will be good is a fruitless endeavor. The matchup between two highly-touted teams will be an uninteresting blowout, and some No. 16 seed will beat Kentucky. You’ll watch the first but miss the second. The whole thing is random.

That being said, another piece of advice: Keep your expectations in check. Crazy things do happen, but Kentucky could go all the way, and you’ll be disappointed because what kind of an underdog story is that?

In times like those, switch from following the men’s bracket to the women’s bracket, or vice versa. Something you want to have happen is bound to happen in one bracket or the other.

Another important thing to do during March Madness is prepare talking points. If the conversation strays to a game you missed, bring the conversation back to common ground. Throw out some vague but assertive statements about Jahlil Okafor and remember to include lots of buzzwords.

“Man, Okafor is just unstoppable. He is such an athlete. Synergy. Networking. Client-centric. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.”

This strategy will work. Talking about March Madness often involves throwing a lot of random information around, particularly in large group settings where no one actually knows what they’re talking about, but no one wants anyone else to know, and the winner of debates is the loudest person.

I’d like to offer one final thought. If you do lose money on your bracket, just remember that now you have less money to lose at Feve. At least the money on your bracket went to a somewhat intellectual cause. I mean, you tried to reason your way to a good bracket, whether through educated guesses or systematically choosing which jersey colors you like best.

Take a deep breath because the Madness begins soon. The awkward gap is almost over.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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