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Thrill-Seeking Terps Tackle March Madness

March 13, 2018

You can stay close to the action with a College Park apartment!

March Madness is a phenomenon. An estimated $2.5 billion is wagered on the tournament every year (even more than on the Super Bowl!) This enthusiasm is felt at universities across the country, from top teams to schools that have never made the cut. You can bet that every Terp will be glued to the TV in their College Park apartment, drawn to this spectacular, month-long event for one reason: the thrill.


The Atmosphere

In an interview, UMD junior Jack M. gave his perspective on the sport. “My earliest basketball memory is playing intramural basketball at age five.” He continued, “I’ve made a bracket like every year since 6th or 7th grade.” This is true for a lot of students at UMD, some of whom follow the games tirelessly.

Just like the students, university staff is totally engaged. Assistant athletic director Jordan L. said that since he can’t attend the tournament, he’s “glued to the television for the entirety of every game.”

Unfortunately, both analysts and locals have the sense that this year is going to be a tough one for UMD. “We were down to eight scholarship players at one point… We had three scholarship players injured, so that’s a pretty big blow,” Jack pointed out. Partly because of these injuries, it’s been a pretty unremarkable season for UMD men’s basketball. It’s unlikely they’ll get an automatic bid.

Jack says he’s definitely still rooting for them, though. There’s nothing more important to a Terp than school pride, and he thinks there’s a larger strategy at work. “I’m not even sure were using all our scholarship spots this year… I think were doing a lot of building for next season,” he noted. “If I had to pick one team I’d want to be in the tournament, it would be Maryland.”


The Brackets 

When it comes to brackets, Terps use a wide variety of strategies. Some said they whipped up a bracket on the night of the first game, while others said they create their bracket well in advance, to better their chances of winning the local betting pool. Jack M. usually makes his initial bracket on Selection Sunday, as soon as the seeded teams are revealed…but he doesn’t take it too seriously. “It’s just kind of fun to see how many teams you can call correctly.”

As for the professional picks, he had several recommendations. The Washington Post is a good resource for mainstream predictions. You can view their initial predictions for the 2018 tournament here. “If you’re looking for a source of interesting picks, you can go to Myron Metcalfe,” explained Jack. He makes so-called Bold Predictions. “They almost never happen but they’re really fun to look at,” Jack said. You can also view a mix of other analysts’ predictions here.


The Selection Sunday Show

Should you watch it? Maybe. Jack described his experience during last year’s show.

“It was super nerve-wracking, because Maryland was literally the last announcement… So we were sitting there like ‘Did we not make it?’ It was me and my roommates watching and we were doubting ourselves all of a sudden.”

Afterwards he quipped, “That was the only selection show I can remember that was worth watching.”


The Games

“My favorite part of the season is when we get into the meat of the Big Ten conference schedule,” Jordan L. told me. “When week after week we have a Top-10 team visiting XFINITY Center, it’s pretty exciting.

Our basketball atmosphere is incredible, the best I’ve ever seen across the country. So it’s pretty special that we get to be a part of it.”

As for the championship game, Jack M. said he usually hosts or attends a viewing party. It’s an informal affair. Sometimes students go to local bars or restaurants. Otherwise, Terps said they just piled into the College Park apartment or dorm room with the best TV.


What About the Women’s Team?  

“There’s no doubt people love basketball here and take a great deal of pride in our teams, both men’s and women’s,” Jordan L. responded when I asked what March Madness is like at UMD. Other Terps confirmed this passion adamantly. Jack M. said he watches regular season games from time to time, and catches the Final Four and the championship game for women’s basketball. How does he choose which games to watch? Again, it’s all about the excitement. Jack looks out for games against equally talented teams, because “Maryland women are really good… I’d rather go to the games where they have to fight it out.”


The Terp Spirit

“Ironically, despite not growing up in the area, my first basketball memory ever is Lonny Baxter and the rest of the Terps winning the 2002 national championship,” Jordan L. recounted, “I don’t know why I remember that so well.” It seems that the Terp spirit is infectious and enduring. Terps of all kinds will enjoy this year’s March Madness, many of them in the comfort of their off-campus College Park apartment. Embrace the spirit of Testudo this month by decorating your newly refurbished ROSS apartment in College Park, MD with UMD swag.