An Amateur’s Guide to March Madness

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Being an American citizen has its many privileges. We get to eat French Fries in our cars whenever we want; we can ‘gram pictures of ourselves as teenagers every Thursday; we can make up abbreviations for already made up words (e.g. ‘gram) and no one will think less of us. However, we also have to keep up-to-date with sports, or we risk missing out on intellectual party conversations and “getting” what’s trending on Twitter.

For the most part, I have no problem being a good American. I eat French Fries in my car more often than I sleep in it. I am more than happy to let the world see my painfully embarrassing afro as a thirteen-year-old, but I often struggle keeping up to date on which quarterback stuck his landing during the big match the previous week. (Just kidding. I know it’s always Tom Brady). If you are like me, the words “March Madness” probably strike you with a panic attack, and then immediately remind you of the tea party from Alice in Wonderland. I am here to help. Feel free to use this guide to help you through this difficult season that is the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Some Key Terms Defined[1]:

Box Out – If there’s one sweeping generalization about basketball players that is true, it’s that they loooove their shoes. Some basketball shoes are so nice and expensive, that players hesitate to take them out of the box for fear they’ll get them dirty. They show up to a really important team audition wearing shoes while they are still in the box. Not only does this look ridiculous, but it’s also very impractical for running. There’s at least one player on every team that has to be told by the coach, “Box out! Box out!” which results in the player sadly having to take his (or her) shoes out of the precious cardboard chest in which they came and wear them like a human.

Buckets – College is sponsored by KFC. Therefore, we want players to make as many buckets as possible during a game. I never know when a bucket has been made, but I do know that KFC will give out one family-sized bucket of fried chicken to the poorest person in the stadium for every bucket that is made during the game. KFC has like, a really good marketing department.

Backcourt – If there is a dispute over one of the judge’s calls during the game, the two coaches have to meet in Backcourt to reach a verdict. The judge blows the whistle, and the two coaches meet under the bleachers to discuss their disagreement. No yelling is allowed, and it usually ends with a hug.

Alley-oop – You only need to read this definition if your route home includes walks down dark alleys. This pertains to that moment when you are walking home alone (from a basketball game, obviously) and you turn down an alley, and as soon as you turn the corner you see a homeless man squatting next to the dumpster relieving himself, but if you turn around now, it’s obvious that you are turning around just because you don’t want to walk by the homeless man, so you keep walking like everything is cool in order to protect his feelings, but in your head you’re like, “Oops. I should have walked by the alley first to survey the scene before taking that corner so abruptly.”

H-O-R-S-E – This is just a misspelling of the word “whores,” and I think we all know what whores have to do with college basketball.

Nothin’ But Net – It’s a well-known fact that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s[2] father was a modest fisherman, which is not an easy life. Each night, his father would come home from work with his catch from the day to feed their family of eight. Kareem, who was always hungry from a full day of school and an intense basketball rehearsal, would have to go to bed with an empty stomach on the nights when his father would come home, shoulders stooped, and have to look into his children’s eyes when they asked what he caught that day to nourish them. He would down-troddenly admit to them, “Nothin’ but net…”

Deuce – Please refer to the above definition of “alley-oop.” Remember when I mentioned that homeless man relieving himself? Well think about it: what rhymes with “oop?”

March Madness – The nickname for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which ultimately picks the World’s Best College. When you become the World’s Best College, you get to do really cool things like sell bumper stickers and make a woman your president (but just for show). Sometimes you even teach people things, but let’s not waste time on minor details.

NCAA – An organization that was created to help African-Americans go to college if they can play basketball. Personally, I think African-Americans should be able to go to college even if they don’t play basketball, but what do I know? I’m just a woman college president.

Seed – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s family eventually started planting these to grow their food after the commercial fishermen came in and depleted the entire supply of North Atlantic Herring.

Unsportsmanlike Foul – The best way to weaken your opponent’s defense is to rip a foul fart while he’s close to you. They key to completing this maneuver successfully is to make sure your fart is silent, but deadly. If you break wind audibly and the judge calls you on it, you are then penalized with an unsportsmanlike foul. The punishment for this offense is to be pantsed[3] by the player whom you tried to crop dust originally. The NCAA is currently campaigning to completely remove the unsportsmanlike foul from gameplay, but human rights advocates are fighting to protect it.

Wrapping Up

While this list is extensive, it is by no means all-inclusive, but it should be enough to get you started. You should now be able to fool any sports junkie into thinking that you know your stuff. Hell, you could probably even add “sports” to your interests on and not be lying. Throw some of these terms into conversation while you’re at the ESPN Zone watching “The Big Game.” And most important of all: be sure to always refer to any game as “The Big Game.”

[1] These terms were alphabetized by a college athlete.

[2] I only know this name because he once made a guest appearance on an episode of Full House in which he helped Uncle Jesse find his sweet spot.

[3] When you pull a person’s pants down in front of a crowd of people, most commonly found in high school locker rooms.