We enter each March like modern Nostradamuses, offering bold predictions in vague statements: giants will fall at the hands of the meek. Soon enough the Florida Gulf Coasts, Wichita States, and La Salles of the tournament validate our prophecies. Though, of course, no one is impressed.
We associate March Madness with insanity, craziness, and utter chaos; buzzer beaters, alley-oops, and upsets. Above all else, an air of unpredictability undermines the entire tournament. But is it still unpredictable when so many can predict it?
I can’t say which muse inspires this madness, but I do know which one provides the soundtrack. English alt-rock band Muse released their single “Madness” in August. The song has found new meaning in March.
One can hear the hypnotic stuttering that opens the track throughout tournament play. It builds ever so slightly, seemingly on the brink of bursting- then it does. Florida Gulf Coast rises over Georgetown, leaving the Hoyas to lament, as vocalist Matthew Bellamy does, “Some kind of madness is swallowing me whole.”
And suddenly the fans become engrossed with these giant slayers who transcend their mid-major status with a few made baskets while we shred our brackets. We’ll cheer for Wichita State to defeat Gonzaga not only because we still laugh whenever someone says “Shocker” on national TV, but also because March demands that we root for the underdog. “Is this real love,” we ask ourselves, “or is it just madness keeping us afloat?”
The games crescendo with the song, climaxing in equal parts euphoria and despair. The clock winds down, the desperation grows, and Aaron Craft stands at the three point line in a tie game with the ball in his hand. He waves off his teammate and launches his shot that whips through the net with ill time to spare.
Ohio State rushes the court, Iowa State crumples in defeat and both join Bellamy as he screams, “I need to love.”
The jubilation dissipates, the smoke clears, and we’re left with nothing but madness. The hypnotic stuttering returns quietly to lead FGCU, La Salle, and Wichita State into the Sweet Sixteen. To borrow from Bellamy once again, “I can’t get these memories out of my mind and some kind of madness has started to evolve.”
Some kind of madness indeed.
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