It’s almost as if bar owners in America couldn’t have planned it any better. Or, perhaps, any worse.
Thursday, March 17, 2016. St. Patrick’s Day. Thursday, March 17, 2016. The start of the NCAA Tournament.
If there’s an Irish pub in America that isn’t stuffed to the corned beef and cabbage-filled gills at noon today—and for the 12 hours to follow—the owners might want to reconsider what they’re doing in life. Close up shop and become a Cash for Gold business. Maybe open a library of rare Gaelic texts. (Wait… that’s Scottish.) Insert Lucky Charms quip here.
No worries, though, because even the worst dive bar gets filled on St. Patrick’s Day—kiss me I’m drunk enough to pretend I’m Irish and all that—and any establishment with a TV or three will have people tuned in to the tournament to follow their brackets before they all get busted. Did you really think Yale was going to beat Baylor? Did you, person who knows nothing about basketball but now shouts out regurgitated talking points they heard all week on Mike and Mike?
What will surely be a day to remember for bar-goers around the country—and one that many won’t remember come tomorrow—those same bar owners surely wished St. Patty’s day was yesterday—any day but today—in hopes of profiting off that incredible double dip of whiskey and Guinness on tap one day, and cheap beer and snacks that go with mindlessly watching 12 hours of basketball the next.
Alas, St. Patty’s Day and March Madness day are one in the same this year, which for people who love drinking and laughing and cheering and singing and pub crawls and fights and “I love you, maaaaaan” and “I hate your team, maaaaan” and “let’s be friends forever, maaaaan, I mean it, forever, even though your cousin went to Duke” it’s the best day of the year.
For the rest of you, though, what the heck does it mean?
Seriously, what do you do today, or this entire weekend?
Last year’s NCAA Tournament broke viewership records, with the first weekend recorded as the best-watched opening weekend in tournament history. The average viewership for the entire tournament was the best in 22 years, with 11.3 million total viewers on average and 33.4 million watching the national championship game.
While those numbers are huge for a television audience—and the title game is usually one of the 10 best sports ratings of the year—that’s still just about 10 percent of the country watching the national championship, and way, way less than that tuning in for the rest of the tournament.
So while many of us are immersed in bracket insanity, most Americans aren’t. Strange, I know. But if you are one of those Americans looking for something to distract you from the insanity of March 17, here are some things you could be doing today instead of going to the bars watching your friends pretend they know anything about the Chattanooga Mocs.
Watch Good Basketball
The NBA does not shy away from the start of March Madness like it does the day of the Super Bowl. There are still eight games on Thursday night, including some important playoff-related contests, highlighted by Toronto traveling to Indiana, Charlotte facing Miami in a huge Southeast division game and the Spurs hosting a Portland team which has, admittedly, cooled off as of late but still has a good chance to make the playoffs and do some damage to the title hopes of the elite Western Conference teams this season.
This is not to suggest that some NCAA games won’t be exciting and wonderful and right down to the wire. There is nothing quite like March Madness in terms of excitement, fanfare and pageantry. But sometimes, watching college teams run an offense is downright painful.
The eight teams in Dayton for the First Four games combined to shoot 188-for-450 from the floor, or 41.8 percent. Ironically, that’s the exact shooting percentage for the Los Angeles Lakers, the worst team in the NBA by nearly two full percentage points.
From three, the teams in Dayton were a comical 47-for-172, or 27.3 percent. It’s not even worth the NBA comparison given the line is in so far compared to the pros, but the worst shooting team from deep, again the Lakers, are connecting on 31.9 percent. The Warriors hit 41.5 percent from three-point range this season. To watch a college basketball team pass the ball around the perimeter for 28 seconds and hoist up a contested three from the elbow is just awful.
The regular season in the NBA drags on and is, at times, horribly boring. But as exciting as the NCAA Tournament is, part of the reason the games are so close is because most of the teams simply can’t shoot. If you’re a purist, go with the NBA, then tune back in when NCAA games get close and late.
Watch Other Sports
Just because the NCAA Tournament is spread across four networks—CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV—doesn’t mean basketball is on every other channel. There are a host of exciting shows to watch tonight that won’t involve any basketball.
WWE Smackdown is on, for fans of competition where they know their winning picks will be right. As the federation ramps up toward Wrestlemania, it’s a good time to hop in and catch up on who isn’t out with an injury or being wasted in the mid-card, so Triple H and Shane McMahon can headline the top matches at the biggest event in the industry next month.
Or, better yet, watch the best sport on television today: competitive cooking!
Tonight is the season finale of Top Chef (look for our review tomorrow) at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Top Chef is, without question, the best cooking competition serial on TV. The best one-off cooing show? Well that’s Chopped, with a new episode on Food Network at 8 p.m. called The Bold and the Baconful.
Tell me that’s not worth staying in and watching. Go ahead.
If you want “real” sports tonight without the bouncing and squeaking on hardwood, ESPN is showing primetime baseball, with the Diamondbacks facing the Cubs in a spring training tilt. There’s local hockey on too. There is always local hockey on.
If you haven’t watched season one of Daredevil, you should get on that today, as season two drops at 12:01 a.m. PT on Friday. Sure, the NCAA Tournament is awesome, but is it more awesome than watching Matt Murdock take insane beating after insane beating while trying—as both a lawyer and a vigilante—to clean up Hell’s Kitchen?
If superheroes aren’t your thing, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday also drops at the same time, so get an early nap on Thursday to wake up at three in the morning on the East Coast to watch an old, beloved character from our youth who turned out to be a major perv step back into the spotlight in hilarious and ultra-creepy fashion!
If you don’t want to stay up too late, or wake up too early, you can watch an array of shows already streaming on Netflix, including House of Cards season four, which became available last week. Though having sat through the 13 episodes over the last few days, I can assure you that is not something you actually want to do. Just tell your friends you did, and if they ask you about any details just say “how about that scene with that murder out of nowhere” or “can you believe what they’re doing with Claire” and it could be any season and almost any episode.
Despite getting to the finals of our NCAA-esque best TV shows bracket, House of Cards is a bad show. Trust me on that if you haven’t watched. Thank me, even.
Share Opinions on Social Media
If you don’t want to go out to a bar to interact with people, that doesn’t mean you still can’t interact with people. Go on social media. Share your thoughts. There are millions of people out there just waiting to hear what you have to say about today’s news and events.
Maybe you have some thoughts about the President filling out a bracket. Share those. People love those. You are a smart and reasonable person, and people will undoubtedly take your opinions in the exact way you mean them. Maybe you can even convince people who disagree with you to change their minds.
Try that. That could be more fun than watching basketball.
You know where you (probably) won’t run into obnoxious drunks tonight? The movies!
This week’s selection isn’t great, honestly, but if you’re into science fiction, the new Divergent film, Allegiant, comes out this weekend. Of course, Rotten Tomatoes gives that a—holy cow—16 percent, which is even worse than all the promotional materials makes it seem.
Miracles from Heaven, which is the movie where a girl falls out of a tree and becomes God (based on the trailers, that’s what the plot is, yes?) is already out in theatres and has a 63 percent rating. In other words, it’s okay. Midnight Special, with Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst is out as well. That looks pretty good.
And the movie The Bronze is out, but it looks horrible and is getting terrible reviews and, really, the entire premise seems like a disaster because you can’t take a date to it if it’s as “vulgar and raunchy” as the reviews say. But you can’t show up to a movie about (teenage) gymnasts being vulgar and raunchy by yourself, now can you? Can you? (Please don’t.)
You could go see an older movie, like Zootopia, which is apparently great. Or 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is getting very good reviews—here’s ours from Ian Casselberry—or, go see Deadpool. Have you seen Deadpool? You should see Deadpool. It’s vulgar and raunchy in all the right ways.
Enjoy the silence
No, this isn’t going to end with the haughty suggestion to cozy up and read a book. That’s lame. I mean, sure, reading is fine (thanks for reading this) but me suggesting you read a book is what’s lame. I’m better than that. You are better than that.
But what about this: do nothing. Enjoy the silence of nothing. Turn off the TV, leave one dim light on and, dammit, fine… read a book, or—OR—flip through a magazine or scroll the internet for things you’ve been meaning to get to but, come on, tl;dr.
Grab the coupon clipper and peruse all the great offers to clean your gutters. Grab a deck of cards and play solitaire, or if there are two of you, play war. Hug your wife, or your girlfriend, or your wife’s girlfriend if she lets you. (Note: if your wife has a girlfriend that she lets you hug and you choose to watch basketball instead, I don’t even know how any advice can help you.)
You don’t have to love basketball. Or, maybe you do love basketball but don’t need the wild frat-party, drunk-in-the-streets, kiss me because I’m wearing this stupid green shirt nature of St. Patty’s day to go along with it.
You can just think of today as a regular Thursday, do what you normally do—Chinese food and the comic shop for our family, with the aforementioned 12 hours of basketball for me—and enjoy the day at home. Safely.