An addict’s guide to surviving March Madness

Hello. My name is Matt Chando, and I’m a March Madness addict. I’ve tried everything – the patch, the gum, cessation programs, Arena Football, Valium and even the NBA. But the fact of the matter is for the next four weekends, all non-sports-related areas of my life will come to a grinding halt. This may or may not include simple bodily functions, afternoon naps, all non-tournament related speech and movement from my couch. And my guess is yours will too.

The NCAA tournament is one-of-a-kind. One of 65 will be crowned NCAA champion on April 2 in Atlanta. But it’s not so much the result that consumes offices, faculty rooms and dormitories nationwide; it’s the chase.

The first two days of the NCAA tournament are the two best days in sports. If your team is playing in the Super Bowl, I could understand an argument for that day and only that day.

From Thursday to Sunday, 49 NCAA basketball games will be played across the country. All this basketball begs the question: What can you temporarily cut out to make time for the madness? I like to start with family members and/or pets, because generally they will forgive you after the tournament ends. A job or classes are the next logical thing to go because chances are your boss/professor is most likely watching CBS underneath his desk while you’d be working. Afternoon naps and/or oversleeping is also an expendable commodity; in fact, my roommate – who hasn’t seen the back end of a.m. since Bush’s first term – is actually getting up early to prepare for the games.

While each year a different pool of 65 teams vows for a national championship, many things stay the same. Every year favorites are toppled lower seeds, Cinderella’s dance through March in glass sneakers, a little known school is put on the national map – i.e. Valparaiso (1998), Gonzaga (1999), Santa Clara (1993), Kent State (2001), Villanova (1986) and George Mason last year – any Bob Huggins team does not advance past the second round, and some guy in your office is sure he’s got the next big upstart team pegged (since I can’t resist from being that guy, watch out for Nevada and Southern Illinois).

I know the dizzying array of college basketball in which you are about to partake can seem intimidating. After years of missing key moments in games because of malnutrition, dead batteries or just bad luck, I’ve developed a system guaranteed to maximize you’re viewing pleasure:

1) The clicker is never more than an arm’s length away. 2) Inopportune bathroom breaks can be remedied with a high dose of volume and an open door. (Can you really afford to miss the next Bryce Drew moment because of your bladder?) 3) Try to befriend Jim Nantz and Billy Packer in your mind; you’ll be seeing their mugs non-stop for 96 hours. 4) On second thought, Billy Packer is almost impossible to tolerate, so timely use of the MUTE button will be essential. 5) If you haven’t already done so, watching the tournament is a great way to familiarize yourself with various erectile dysfunction treatment options, since every other commercial does so for you. 6) Your sedentary state may cause blood clots, so obtaining some blood thinning medication may be advantageous.

But the best possible piece of advice I can give you is to sit back and enjoy. The rest of this month is perhaps the greatest in collegiate athletics – pure and unadulterated sport at its best.