I’m just going to say something, and I have a feeling that lots of you out there will agree with me: Today could potentially be one of the greatest days in the history of the world.

Jess Cox
Illinois junior Dee Brown will lead the Fighting Illini in their first-round game against Fairleigh Dickinson tonight.
(AP Photo)
Jess Cox

OK, so I might have overshot it a little.

But it’s going to be spectacular, and I know I’m not alone in thinking that.

The biggest reason for excitement is that, as of noon, the NCAA basketball tournament is underway. Now, I don’t know about you, but there are very few things that get me as juiced up as watching March Madness.

And on top of that natural high is St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps the greatest “Go Out and Act Like an Idiot” holiday that there is. Combine that with the hoops, and it’s like sitting down to open your Christmas presents and finding $1,000 under the couch.


That being said, the endurance it’s going to take to get through today and the hours upon hours of basketball this weekend is pretty substantial. No doubt some of you reading this have been out celebrating since 7 or 8 a.m. (Irish translation: “The wee hours o’ the morn”). But, if you can still read this through the haze, let me offer a few suggestions to help you survive the weekend.

 1. Pace Yourself: I know this sounds too parental, but I’m telling you the truth. Think about it — if you started at 7 a.m., that means five hours of partying before the first basketball game even starts. Add to that 12 hours of games to watch each day for the next four days, and you’ve got a lot in front of you.

So it’s important not to overextend. You don’t want to pass out at 10 a.m., and miss everything. You don’t want to be stuck in bed for the rest of the weekend. You don’t want to throw back a six-pack of Guinness and not be able to move because you gained 40 pounds.

Let’s not forget that watching the basketball games is mission No. 1 this weekend, so don’t let anything supercede that (Irish translation: “Watch yourself, lassie”).

 2. Avoid the naysayers: Those of you who will make it your duty to watch all 48 hours of basketball this weekend have no doubt come across those that tell you you’re stupid, that you’re wasting your time or that you’re obsessed.

I’m totally expecting a call from my girlfriend, Amy, telling me at least one of those things.

And normally, it might bother me. Except that whenever anyone talks to me this weekend, all I can hear are the words to the “One Shining Moment” song that they play at the end of the tournament.

What someone says to me: “Hi, Chris.”

What I hear: “The ball is tipped…”

What someone says to me: “How are you?”

What I hear: “There you are…”

What someone says to me: “You’re a freakin’ idiot.”

What I hear: “You’re running for your life, you’re a shooting star.”

March Madness only rolls around once a year, and it’s important not to let anyone interfere with the sweet, sweet joy that watching it can bring. Especially on the first weekend of the tournament, when upsets are flying in and you still think you have a chance at winning your bracket pool.

Which leads me to step No. 3 …

 3. Don’t let the brackets get the best of you: Just because you have Syracuse going to the Final Four and the Orange lose to Vermont in the first round, you haven’t ruined the whole tournament for yourself.

Don’t rip up the bracket — you never know what other upset might get you back into the mix.

But most importantly, enjoy the games anyway. Chill out with the roommates, finish off the keg of green beer and take it all in.

 4. Consume food wisely: This is especially important today, on St. Patty’s Day. You DO NOT want to go crazy and order some Irish concoction. The last thing you need at 11 a.m., before you sit on the couch for 12 hours is a huge corned beef sandwich sitting in your stomach.

And you will get sick of pizza if you order it every time you and your roommates get hungry. Lucky Charms are only appropriate food for St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. Do not live exclusively off of them.

Try to work in all of the basic food groups. Or, if that isn’t possible, at least pick up some chips and dip to pass the time before your next barbequed chicken pizza.

 5. Rest when needed: Here’s a tip. There’s a break in tournament games between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Use that hour and a half to take a nap, take a shower and clean up whatever food stuffs you have stuck to your clothes.

And feel free to sleep in until the very last moment. Getting up at 11:55 on Friday morning gives you five minutes to wash your face, brush your teeth and throw up that corned beef sandwich before you sit on the couch for 12 more hours of basketball.

 So there you have it. Five simple steps that will help you survive this weekend. But for now, let me close with an Irish blessing:

“May your doctor never earn a dollar out of you, may your heart never give out, may the ten toes of your feet steer you clear of misfortune. … And before you’re much older, may you hear much better blessings than this.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy March Madness everyone!!


Chris Burke can be reached at chrisbur@umich.edu.

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