Nichole’s Yearly Bout of the Madness


I fell asleep at 8pm on Sunday. Not because I’d been busy doing yard work, or even walking around checking out the Cherry Blossoms. I was worn out from my yearly bout of The Madness.

Whether or not I closely follow college hoops during the regular season is largely dependent upon how good a team Maryland, my alma mater, has and how exciting the ACC is. But come March, I’m ready for hours of game watching, smack talking, and bracketology.

Since I’m not working, this year I didn’t have to develop a mystery illness to duck out of work at Noon on opening day. I have however had to decline invitations to meet friends at locations without enough tvs, and I almost stormed Comcast’s offices when my cable went out just in time for the Sweet Sixteen. I was also supremely anti-social at the PoP happy hour last week, not ever setting foot upstairs, because I’d found an excellent perch at the bar from which to view ‘Nova knock Duke out of the tourney and my hometown favorite Pitt win for the last time this year.

I’ve been checking out the games all over town, and across the river in Old Town. From Solly’s the other night, to the Pour House in my neck of the woods, to Chadwick’s across the river, to Lola’s (in the old Tapatinis spot on Barracks Row – make a point to check it out if you haven’t; it’s an excellent little neighborhood bar) to the Argonaut, to Bugsy’s (also in Old Town), to Tonic for post game highlights – I’ve logged more than a reasonable amount of hours in front of televisions in bars, not to mention consuming innumerable pints of beer, celebratory shots, drowning-of-busted-bracket-sorrows shots, chicken fingers, nachos, pretzels and all manner of bar foods. (Lola’s has the best chicken fingers I’ve ever had – seriously, check it out.)  Continues after the jump.

I love finding new teams to cheer for, and seeing the hometown kids dance. This year was especially sweet because not only did the Panthers get a run, but even closer to home was Robert Morris’s appearance. BobbyMo, as it’s affectionately called, is located not just in my hometown, but quite literally in my father’s back yard. In high school, my friends and I would sit in the space between my back yard and the BobbyMo campus and entertain ourselves by drinking Mickey’s grenades (back when they still had the tab tops) and seeing who could fling the empties the farthest, in a game we creatively dubbed the Mick Toss. (I’m aware this is wildly environmentally unfriendly, but we were 16 and it was the 80s in suburban Pittsburgh. We didn’t know any better – we were drinking Mickey’s for God’s sake.) Anyway, although I don’t choose my bracket sentimentally (and I only do one, no matter how many pools I’m entered in – I believe that you make your picks, and you stick with them) I would have loved to see Robert Morris go far, but it just wasn’t to be.

I love meeting new friends, no matter how short lived that friendship may be. I’ve never been hugged, high-fived, or photographed by strangers as much as the night I was sporting my “Duke Sucks” t-shirt and Duke’s run came to an end. I met a nice kid from Robert Morris the night I was wearing my Pitt Basketball shirt. I’ve even watched several rounds with friends who are (gasp!) Duke alumni. (Forgive me fellow Terrapins! They’re good people, I swear!)

My bracket is blown, and has been since the Sweet Sixteen. But I don’t care. At this point, I think I’d like to see the Spartans go all the way in Detroit, and I’ll be right there with them in spirit in front of a tv in a bar somewhere. (Oh, and congrats to the Lady Terps on an excellent run – sorry to see it end tonight!)

So any other March Madness fanatics out there? How are your brackets doing? Any recommendation for the best spot to watch the final four?

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