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How to Intelligently Talk About March Madness (Even If You Sort Of Don’t Care)

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The time is upon us — the time when everyone in the world cares about college basketball. But what if you don’t? How do you make small talk about the Sweet Sixteen, without accidentally making a quinceañera joke? Here are a couple of salient talking points that will have you speaking the language of brackets and Elite 8 in no time.

Talk about how it’s been a year of upsets: Here are a couple of games that could have ruined your chatting partner’s brackets: Norfolk State’s win over No. 2 seed Missouri, perennial favorites Duke getting knocked out by Lehigh. Basically it’s a Wild West scenario. It could be anyone’s game, so being dazzled that the underdogs are taking things by the balls (and admitting that you love an underdog) is a great way to start the convo. A major bonus goes to mentioning that none of those underdog games were actual buzzer beaters — the underdogs took their victory with plenty of time to make it look easy. Want to take a deeper dive? Read ESPN’s watercooler chat.

Talk about the juggernaut that is Kentucky: Though at this juncture the field is crowded with power players, it’s hard not to think Kentucky could take the tourney. Even Obama agrees! And their next game (on Friday) is a doozie. A rematch of an insane regular season game against No. 4 Indiana, in which they lost by one-point right at the buzzer. Want to throw a name around? Talk specifically about freshman point guard Marquis Teague as the collegiate Jeremy Lin (pre-choke).

Talk about UNC’s precarious situation: UNC’s fate hangs on the balance of Kendall Marshall’s wrist. One of UNC’s major players just underwent surgery on a wrist injury sustained in the Creighton game, which leaves the other heavy favorite in a lurch before facing Ohio on Friday. Ask your potential paramour for more conspiracy theories about what could potentially happen next. Can the team pull it together without Marshall? Can you really just toss some pins in someone’s wrist and toss them on the court?

Know how long this thing will go on for: This entire turn of events is going to roll out until April 2, when the Final Four games start in New Orleans. So settle in with a beer and commit to reading the Sports page until then.

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