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I love college basketball. If you forced me to choose between my college football team and my college basketball team, unlike many of the readers of this site who overlook college basketball because they claim they don’t like the sport but more likely their schools simply suck ass at it and they’re actually deplorable fair weather fans who would hop on the bandwagon in a second should their school start playing decent ball, I would have a nearly impossible time deciding between the two. It would be like my own personal Sophie’s Choice. On a related note, this is basically the face I made after Missouri lost to Norfolk State:
Watching your team filled with beloved seniors suffer a crushing defeat is sort of like watching an SS officer drag away your screaming young daughter at your own insistence, right? No?
Aside from wildly irrational school pride, the biggest reason I love college basketball so much is the atmosphere. While college football crowds get absolutely insane, the craziest sports environments I have ever been in are college basketball arenas for big games. There’s something about being packed inside that adds to the pressure of everything, and the enclosure combined with psychotic and usually hammered college kids makes the noise and intensity second to none in sports. If you haven’t been to a game like this:
then I feel bad for you, because it’s an experience that no other sport can replicate (though college football does come close).
One of the best parts about the college basketball atmosphere is that the crowd also has an effect on the game like no other sport. Again, college football comes the closest, but there is no greater home advantage than in college basketball. Not only is winning on the road incredibly difficult, against even mediocre teams, but the heckling is more creative and effective. This is because the players can hear and see you. The fans aren’t distant movement; they are right on top of the game. While loud, white crowd noise certainly affects a college football game, it’s far more intense in basketball, and more importantly, the players are close enough to the crowd to suffer from the twisted creativity of its student fans.
Check out the below examples, things that would never work in a college football game, or anything other than an NBA game, except that most NBA crowds are worthless.
All of that is simply fantastic. Both the shot clock countdown at Michigan State and the Belmont fan’s brilliant “Wrecking Ball” rendition happened this year, and they’ve inspired me to think of some more heckling antics to be used freely around the college basketball universe. So grab your nearest pledge class, a handle of awful whiskey, and a few cases of Natty and start rehearsing to solidify your team’s home court advantage.
Fistfight During Free Throws
Why complicate things? What’s more distracting than two people kicking the shit out of each other? If I was at the birth of my own child, even if that child happened to be the next Messiah or John Connor or whatever, and a fistfight broke out in the other room, you better believe I’d peek my head out the door and watch that fight to completion. The mother of my child might be upset, but I’d convince my baby momma later that she was having an epidural hallucination.
The key here is to keep the rest of the student section seated and quiet during the free throws while two people violently spill out into the stairway behind the basket for maximum visibility, just absolutely trying to kill each other. Someone should probably scream something like, “YOU FUCKED MY GIRLFRIEND YOU SON OF A BITCH!” Or maybe, “YOU FUCKED MY DAD YOU SON OF A BITCH!” A brawl over a close, personal loved one getting fucked, which the fighters loudly announce is the cause of the fight at its outset, is bound to distract your opponent.
Feel free to get creative with who is fighting and why. Two boxers emerging from the crowd as a bikini-clad girl walks by with a sign that says Round 1 would be ridiculous. Two dudes in speedos giving each other a beating would probably also throw the shooter off his game. Shit, have a dude in a banana suit fight a dude in a gorilla suit. I don’t know. Personally, though, I think the more “realistic” the fight, the more distracting it would be. Your best bet is to have two girls emerge from the crowd and start wailing on each other, plus you can still use the “You fucked my dad” line.
You’ll want to save this for a crucial moment, because whoever is fighting is probably getting kicked out. Use pledges.
Use The Dumbest Insults Possible
Some players are liable to get frustrated or flustered by the mean-spirited things shouted at them. More likely, however, these psychotically competitive world class athletes will just get pissed off, and then mercilessly punish your team. Ask Dukies how being mean to Tyler Hansbrough worked out. Those were the only games Roy Williams didn’t have to give Hansbrough his usual in-game direction, which was simply, “Hulk. Smash.” Hell, I’m pretty sure Spike Lee once pissed off Michael Jordan so badly that he dropped 50 on the Knicks and then forced Lee to film he and Lee’s mom recreating the ice cube scene between Lee and Rosie Perez from Do The Right Thing and give it a limited release, to which Michael Wilbon wrote the following review, “Upon viewing this masterpiece, my release was anything but limited. Oh the things I would do to receive an ice bath from His Airness.” Wilbon wrote a similarly sexually-charged review for Space Jam. But hey, that’s why Jordan was the best.
The point is to take these players out of their game, not put them into it. Instead of making them say, “Hell no, they did NOT just say that,” you want them to say, “Wait, what?” Confuse them. Make them laugh. Shout things like this:
“Your hair is stupid!”
“You look like you own three cats!”
“I would NEVER carpool with you!”
This is barely worth doing sober. If there were ever an exercise that required at least ten beers to be perfect at, it’s this. Let them come to you in drunken inspiration. These are even better when you shout the innocuous insults in the angriest voice possible. Again, the point is to confuse and defuse the opponents. If you feel like it, angrily shout compliments at them. Whatever takes them out of their game.
Have One Of These Randomly Run Around Your Baseline On A Key Defensive Possession
No way at least one player doesn’t lose their shit seeing that fucking dinosaur out of the corner of their eye. I don’t know how much these things cost, but instead of buying lame matching t-shirts when they already own roughly two dozen in their school’s colors, the university sponsored student cheering sections should pool their money for one of those bad boys.
DAMN PREHISTORIC NATURE! YOU SCARY!
This is also best used during free throws, and also involves the entire student section behind the basket sitting down and staying quiet. This would also best be executed with a pledge, mostly because it would suck to do. As soon as the opposing player gets ready to shoot, a student starts to walk down the stairs with a tray full of snacks. Preferably, these should be bright, many pieced foods. I’m talking a HUGE tub of popcorn, some nachos slathered in glowing yellow cheese, and cotton candy if they’ve got it. Once the player spots up for his free throw, the kid walking down the stairs absolutely EATS SHIT, causing the snacks to go flying in the air as he or she tumbles down the stairs like a rolling pile of misery. The exploding popcorn alone should distract the shooter. Will everyone around the falling fan be pissed? No, because the other team just missed a crucial free throw. Pie me in the damn face if it means one of Kentucky’s 12 future first round draft picks is going to brick a freebie to lose the game.
Those are just some ideas off the top of my head. I encourage all the great college basketball fans out there to pound a case of beer and use their disturbing ingenuity to come up with other outrageous ideas, because so far the fans have been killing it this season.