March Madness Tips: 10 Fan Laws To Live By

March Madness is one of the best times of the year for sports fans.

It is one of the only sporting events where the build up is actually matched by the event itself.  Oftentimes, the Super Bowl, World Series, and various All Star games fail to live up to the hype.  This is rarely so with March Madness.

However, we all know somebody who does the seemingly impossible for us every single year – that guy who makes March Madness slightly unbearable.

So in order to avoid being THAT GUY this year, here are ten laws to live by during March Madness.


Don't be "that guy" this March. (Photo by Jack Blankenship via

#10.  Thou shalt fill out your bracket…then ignore it.

Tournament brackets represent to college basketball what fantasy football represents to the NFL:  the best possible way for the casual fan to get involved.

We could all dictate several stories of female friends of ours who filled out a bracket “based on whose mascot they liked the best” that ended up winning an office pool.  As enraging as those moments are, brackets make the tournament fun for everyone.

Please don’t be that guy that obsesses over your bracket.  Don’t walk around with it everywhere you go.  Don’t memorize it.  Don’t talk about it incessantly.

Let me say this slowly so that you will understand:  we just don’t care that much.

IMPORTANT EXCEPTION:  If you are in a pool of friends where everyone takes it seriously…then please, obsess over your bracket.  Vital bragging rights for the entire next year are on the line.  This is a completely different situation that requires a completely different set of rules.  However, please make sure you still follow Laws #2  and #3 (coming later).

#9.  Thou shalt not spend even five seconds bemoaning “the team that got the snub.”

Please don’t fall for the radio-man’s okie-doke.  Mike-and-Mike even admitted this morning that “they had nothing to talk about because there weren’t that many snubs this year.”  So dumb.

March Madness is great the way it is.  There is no reason to nit-pick that three teams who would have inevitably gotten blown out in Round One (I’m sorry…round two now…can we please change this back?!?) should have been in.

Don’t waste your time and breath.  Enjoy what is, not what “should have been.”

IMPORTANT EXCEPTION:  If you happen to be a Drexel fan, and you are talking to other Drexel fans, you have every right to whine and moan that you didn’t get in.  In fairness, you guys got snubbed.  Feel free to complain to each other all you want.  But the rest of us…again, we just don’t care that much.

#8.  Thou shalt not be “the snobbish College Basketball Fan” or “the annoying NBA Fan.”

There is a time and place to discuss whether or not you like college or professional basketball more.  March Madness isn’t the time.

I made this law mostly because of myself and my own experiences.

If any of you have ever read my columns, you know that I like the NBA much more than College Basketball.  Because of this, all of my friends that enjoy the college game more have often tried to “cut me out” of the March Madness fun.  Of course, I responded by exclaiming that I didn’t care about the sport anyway.

Let’s put all of the arguments aside for a little while.  The NBA by far plays better actual basketball.  College by far has the better atmosphere.  What you value more completely affects which level you cheer for.

  • College snobs, us NBA fans can’t stand when you try to cut us out by telling us, “we don’t know anything about your sport.”
  • NBA Fans, college fans don’t care that the level of basketball is better in the NBA…DON’T rain on their parade!

There.  Argument settled.  Now let’s just move on and enjoy the greatness of March Madness! Let’s all get along and enjoy the most exciting basketball of the year…together.

#7.  Thou shalt not fill out numerous brackets and then brag when one of your thirty-seven happens to be correct.

This law really speaks for itself.

If you are one of those guys that fills out multiple brackets because he’s in multiple leagues, that’s fine.  Just make sure you pick reasonably similar teams in every single bracket.

It  takes no skill at all to tinker with every bracket and end up getting one that’s reasonably close.  Please please PLEASE don’t brag about this when you do it.

#6.  Thou shalt pick your team to go far.

I’m not necessarily saying you need to pick your team to win it all (although I do think this offers several great upsides), but only a a real jerk picks his team to lose in the first round.  When you do that, you are telling the world one thing:  “I care about my bracket more than I care about my favorite team.”

This is beyond low, and terrible things will happen to you.

Either your team will do really well, and you will feel awful (not only that you doubted them, but because now your bracket is in piece), or your team will lose early and you will feel like you cursed them.

Maybe I don’t think Purdue can make it to the Final Four, but I’m still picking them to go to the Elite Eight, just out of principle.  Boiler Up, Baby!

#5.  Thou shalt not pick your rival to go far.

Really, this is just a continuation of Law #6, but it does bear repeating.  My good friend is a huge UNC fan.  Has he ever picked Duke to advance past the Sweet Sixteen?  Not to my knowledge.  And I’m proud of him.

Remember, only bad things can happen if you pick your rival to go far.  Let’s say I did pick IU to beat Kentucky (I didn’t).  And let’s say IU is down by two with ten seconds left against Kentucky in a week and a half.  Do I really want to be cheering for IU to win, just so my bracket is successful?  Of course not.

Do the right thing.  Pick against your rival.  Enjoy rooting against them one last time.

#4.  Thou shalt not commit sports polygamy.

This happens every year.  Some guy (let’s pretend his name is Charles) that has been cheering for the South Carolina Gamecocks all year long inexplicably walks into the office one day wearing a Butler hat and talking about “his favorite team.”

  • Is Charles really a Butler fan?  NO!
  • Is Charles making everyone furious with this ridiculous charade?  YES!
  • Is Charles committing one of the worst sports crimes you can commit?  Cheering for multiple teams?  ABSOLUTELY!
  • Am I going too far emotionally with this hypothetical that is clearly not a hypothetical and actually happened to me? Probably… Sorry.

Anyways, don’t jump on a bandwagon that you clearly aren’t tied to.  It’s three levels beyond annoying.

Once your team is out, of course you are allowed to cheer on certain teams (hopefully it’s the underdogs).  However, please don’t pretend like you are actually tied to that team.  You aren’t.  So just stop it.

#3.  Thou shalt not spend even five seconds bemoaning an upset that you almost picked but then decided against.

I hate this more than almost anything else.

You are watching the Butler-Pittsburgh game and going crazy because Butler is about to do it again when all of the sudden, your friend starts whining:


All of us have been here once or twice.  We liked a certain team, but we didn’t have the conviction to actually pick them.

If that’s the case, we do not get the right to complain later on.  It’s our own fault that we didn’t pick them.  So stop telling the whole world about something you almost did for a bracket that doesn’t matter to anybody else but you.

#2.  Thou shalt not cheer for your bracket more than you cheer for the one thing that makes March Madness special: upsets.

This is the absolute worst.

Unless the underdog is playing against your favorite team, you should always be cheering for the upset come March.

Take the previous hypothetical from Law #2.  The only possible way to make it worse is for the guy to be crying, “NO!!!!!! THIS IS GOING TO DESTROY MY BRACKET!!!!! COME ON PITT!!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!”

What kind of person actually takes pleasure in cheering against the underdog?  Please, please, please…don’t fall into the selfish trap of falling in love with your bracket.

I used to obsess over my bracket for hours…examine every single stat…go through every conceivable scenario…and finally fill out the “perfect bracket.”  Inevitably, it was wrong by Friday night.


Again, if you are in a league with a bunch of friends where important bragging rights are on the line, it’s a little different.  But even then, don’t bemoan the upset after it happens.

Nobody likes a Debby Downer.  When everyone is talking at work the next day about that fantastic Morehead State upset over Louisville, please don’t be that guy that throws water all over the fire with your little, “But I had Louisville in the Final Four” tantrum.  It’s unbecoming on you.  Nobody likes it.  Just…stop.

#1.  Thou shalt enjoy the ride!

I know it will be much more difficult without Gus Johnson on board, but just remember: March Madness is supposed to be fun!

Don’t get caught up in bracket minutiae, annoying fans, or dumb announcers.  Just turn on your television, sit back, and enjoy the greatest event in sports.

March Madness, 2012!



About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.


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