At the risk of sounding like a really boring cliché, I know next to nothing about sports. I routinely say I’m “voting” for such and such team without noticing I’ve used the wrong word. If someone so much as mentions baseball, I immediately scan my location for fire exits so I can escape before anybody brings up bunting. And football? Forget about it. I mean, I think I know what a first down is, but I can’t explain it—kind of like how you probably claim to know what “camp” means, but do you? Do you really?
For some reason, though, I kind of like basketball. I chalk it up to the fact that I’ve actually played this sport, both as a pre-teen and then as a junior in high school who was mistakenly put on the varsity team due to an (ultimately useless) height advantage. The only basket I scored that entire season was a Hail Mary three-pointer that didn’t even count toward my stats because the game took place during a Christmas tournament. My Dad still makes fun of me…
But I’ve always been kind of interested in March Madness, albeit from the bench. And since my days lack that certain joie de vivre known to so many shiny happy people on Instagram, I’ll take any chance to get swept up in a feeling. Which is why this year I set out to get caught up in March Madness—the whole bracket thing and, of course, the aesthetic.
Luckily, I sat front row at The Wing for a March Madness presentation by a couple of female sports editors from some local rag called The New York Times. And I actually learned a lot. Did you know the winningest teams from the Final Four have had blue or orange jerseys? (Good news for my alma mater, University of Virginia, who has both of these colors.) And teams with cats for mascots have won half of all March Madness championships—a stat that wouldn’t impress a single actual cat, I’m sure.
Real talk, one important thing I learned is that it’s a good idea to stack your bracket with a lot of teams who actually have a chance of reaching the Sweet 16. The more teams you have in the game as the championship progresses, the more points you’ll get toward your overall score. (This may seem obvious to seasoned fans, but it was news to me.) And don’t go making any out-there bets on a No. 16 team beating a No. 1 in round one—it literally never happens. But the NYT editors stressed having fun most of all. If you want to fill out your bracket alphabetically or by color, go for it. Upsets happen, and your blind bracket could take you far. (Just make sure you have UVA, Kansas, and Villanova in your Final Four! Their words, not mine.)
As for what to wear to watch your alma mater dominate or hate-watch an enemy school? I’ve recently been lusting over these vintage-style Hillflint tailgating sweaters, and I think they’re the perfect sophisticated touch to show some school spirit. Set aside those free shirts you got as a freshman, people. You’re grown-ups now. You pretend to know what “camp” means! It’s time your sportswear says a little more “Yes, I have a 401(k),” and a little less “Why is there pizza in my hair?”
A few of us NYC Bitches (and Annie from D.C.) were lucky enough to get Hillflint to send us sweaters for a fun shoot, and we couldn’t wait to show them off. See below for a rundown of our alma maters, what we love about our college basketball teams, and the best place to watch the games in New York City. And as Katy Perry says, “Swish, swish, bish.” Whatever that means.
Name: Annie, D.C. Social Bitch
Alma Mater: Wake Forest University
Best thing about my college basketball team: Wake might not be a huge threat in the tournament this year, but it has a history of incredible basketball legacy, with alumni like Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Muggsy Bogues, and Randolph Childress. One of my favorite college memories is joining my fellow students to “roll the Quad” with toilet paper to celebrate a Deacs win.
College bar in the city: In NYC, the WFU bar is Windfall. In D.C, it’s Hawthorne, 10 Tavern, or Sauf Haus. The local alumni groups often host watch parties.
Name: Ann Louise, NYC Social Bitch
Alma Mater: Florida State University
Best thing about my college basketball team: Everything about our team is great, but Coach Ham is pretty awesome. He’s the winningest coach in FSU history and has led our school to be the third overall winningest program in the ACC!
Fav sports bar in the city: Three Monkeys! It’s pretty close to my apartment and has a pretty decent beer selection.
Name: Cori Sue, CEO and Co-Founder
Alma Mater: UNC-Chapel Hill
Best thing about my college basketball team: Roy Williams, his bow ties and his “Dadgums!”—I wonder what he’d think of our Bitchy little brand name.
Fav sports bar in the city: Brother Jimmy’s BBQ has two locations in NYC (and one in D.C.) and is always filled with eager sports fans.
Name: Shruti, Marketing Bitch and Cocktail Writer
Alma Mater: Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Best thing about my college basketball team: Our women’s team basketball team might be more fierce than the men’s basketball team.
College bar in the city: There’s plenty of Scarlet fever all over the city. McGettigans is always a solid choice to catch games with fellow Scarlet Knights.