Saturday, March 21, 2015

Anteaters, Lumberjacks, and Bracketology! Oh My!

Or the season that is otherwise known as March Madness.  Having been a leatherhead most of my life, I married into a basketball family.  College basketball, that is.  And was quickly introduced to the thrills, spills, and chills of "The Big Dance".  Despite his Blue Devil pedigree, my father-in-law is a Tarheel fan.  Perhaps, it is more accurate to say he was (and will always be) a Dean Smith fan.  Did you know that they introduced the shot clock because of the Dean?  Hang with my clan and you will pick up all sorts of nifty hoops trivia like that.

Of course, much like the Day of St. Patrick, I adore a themed unit that we like to call:  Bracketology.  Whenever you add an -ology to the end of a word, it makes it sounds more academic and legitimate.  Each of us complete a bracket--and no, you can't change it up once the tournament has started. So. Not. Fair.  My students do a good amount of field research--reviewing tape, back issues of Sports Illustrated (not the swimsuit issue, thank you very much!), and tapping into the vast knowledge of basketball stats that He-who-is-now-taller-than-I keeps stored in that noggin of his.  Me?  I just go with what I know, choose a few upsets, and always root for Gonzaga.  Why, you ask?  Because I am a John Stockton fan and that's where he played as an undergrad.  And, no, I don't know what a Zag is.  I just cheer for 'em!

Last year, after a rather hilarious lunch conversation, we decided to inaugurate the Mascot Bracket.  It is totally Darwinistic in its' approach.  Truly, the survival of the fittest.  Indeed, we had to call in a biologist friend to solve a rather spirited debate over who would triumph in a Gators versus Tigers match-up.  Video proof of the tiger's dominance was submitted as evidence.  This year's Mascot Bracket conversation was equally entertaining and included such educational highlights as listed below:

1.  Hoosier and Hawkeye are just slang terms for residents of those particular states.  Indiana and Iowa, respectively.

*2.  UC-Irvine's mascot is the Anteaters.  I don't ever want to hear any flack about my PBA Sailfish after that one.  Ever.

3.  Puma, Panther, and Mountain Lion are all the same animal.  So who wins?  According to my Ninja, Panthers are known for "hunting at night".  Need I mention that this became a haunting refrain throughout our Mascot Bracket debate?

*4.  Lumberjacks, Stephen F. Austin's mascot, are pretty tough. They carry axes, they are brawny, and "they have chest hair."  End of discussion.

For our Geography lesson, we map out all 68 teams/schools.  We noted that on March 18, Texas (tied with Indiana), had the most teams represented, as a state.  By day's end on March 19, all 5 Lone Star teams had been defeated.  Welcome to March Madness.  It is also interesting to note that 30 states in the continental United States are represented at The Dance.  

By this time, most brackets have been busted.  Some possibly shredded to smithereens.  Near upsets.  Nine games whose winners were decided by three or less points.  Those heart-pounding, buzzer beater shots.  The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  

Hoops, there it is. 



Biology. And Debate.

*Sadly, as of this post, neither of these two teams remain in the Tournament.  But, they sure made for great conversation around the kitchen table.

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