1. Potential for a 2023 redemption arc
Everyone loves a good comeback story. Think about it — what do Tiger Woods, the McRib, and former U.S. President Grover Cleveland all have in common? A triumphant return from the brink of obscurity, culminating in redemption on the national stage. Now, we have the same opportunity as all of our favorite adulterous golfers, questionable sandwiches and nonconsecutive two-term presidents. We’re in truly good and great company.
2. The team has more time to focus on their academics
Think of all the classes Kihei Clark would have missed to participate in March Madness. Think of all the discussion sections in which Armaan Franklin would have had to take a zero for participation. If you are anything like me, these thoughts have you shedding tears down your face. Well, cry no more. Our boys will be better able to tend to their studies. Honestly, I’d wager that they are relieved — no more players will have to miss improv practice to fly out to Minnesota. If any paragraph I have ever written is going to conjure up the hatemailers, it is probably this one.
3. No more obligation to put U.Va. atop your bracket
Okay, let’s be honest — even if we had somehow snuck into March Madness this year, none of us would have done this, right? But we’re all somewhat biased to our home team, and I can attest that I would have most likely given them a round or two bump over their likely finish had that been the case. Now, we can toss aside sentimentality for pragmatism and accuracy. Isn’t that fun?
4. We can kiss those UMBC jokes goodbye for a year
Yes, this was four years ago. Yes, we literally won the entire tournament the very next year. No, my high school group chat won’t ever let me live this game down — in spite of the fact that I didn’t even go here at the time. Every March Madness since then, they remind me of the UMBC 16th seed upset. Well, not this year. The benefit of irrelevance is … well, irrelevance. Our prior failures won’t be on anybody’s mind, because we failed prior to the opportunity to fail again. The last loss was humiliating, but it was under-the-radar humiliation — unlike that fateful night.
5. Collective reductions in blood pressure for all
Coach Tony Bennett and the men’s basketball team have left me with many amazing memories during my time at this school. My first year was during that championship run — and for those of you young children who weren’t alive back then — every game was a nailbiter. We kept on inventing ways to take it down to the wire. It was incredibly fun — but also incredibly bad for my heart health. The team being out of the tournament will make my doctor happy, at the very least.
6. More spots for walk-ons — like me — on the team next season
Look, I don’t want to be critical of anyone on the team. I cannot judge any player’s performance — mostly because I only saw maybe four games this season and should probably not be writing a March Madness piece at all. But if Bennett wants to make some roster changes to bring some energy into this offense, a poorer performance this season bodes well for my chances as a walk-on next year. Tony, I can dunk — I may need either a trampoline or a lowered basket, but let’s not get lost in the details.
7. The likelihood of reduced ticket prices next year
On a similar path of logic, one can safely reason that a lesser performance will lead to lower ticket prices next year. For impending graduates such as myself, this is an important issue. With gas prices on the rise, as well as the fact that I have no awaiting job offers and will likely have to sell my Pokemon cards to make ends meet, cheap guest tickets will be critical to my survival. I may need somebody to press the order button for me, however, as I will likely need to eat my fingers for free sustenance.
8. The National Invitation Tournament has more indie cred
March Madness is mainstream. March Madness is lame-stream. The National Invitation Tournament, which I just learned is apparently a thing, has much more underground credibility. The fact that nobody is talking about it means that everybody should be talking about it. When I’m on a tropical vacation, I don’t look for the crowded, tourist-trap beaches. I look for the underrated gems. That’s what the National Invitation Tournament is — a private beach. I think. I really don’t know what this tournament is.
9. Why would we want to be part of an event that Tech attends?
I don’t get it — if we hate Virginia Tech so much, why do we want to be part of a tournament in which they’re participating? Wouldn’t that make us guilty by association? I don’t want any association with Virginia Tech. The second my younger sister accepted her admission to Virginia Tech, I kicked her out of the moving vehicle we were in. I don’t know where she is. I don’t care where she is.
10. More venue availability for Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live
In the spring of 2019, I was a lonely, miserable first-year. I had just failed a calculus test, said “this is a beautiful campus” in front of an attractive third-year student and — worst of all — witnessed a pack of squirrels get brutally run over by a bus. That very night, a friend reached out to me with the night’s moves — a trip to John Paul Jones Arena for Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live. At first, I was skeptical, but I had nothing better to do. So I went. And I’m sure glad I did. For one hour and 43 minutes, I forgot all about the chaos of the world. I forgot about math, the government and the screams of those poor, poor squirrels. For the first time in years, I experienced pure, unadulterated joy. I have not been able to catch Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live since that fateful spring. But with Virginia out of March Madness, perhaps JPJ will have more availability. I sure hope it does. You all deserve to experience the same pure, unadulterated euphoria I did that night.