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Evan Bates: A Case Of March Madness

By Evan Bates, Two-Time Olympic Ice Dancer | March 19, 2015, 7:25 p.m. (ET)

(L) Back when I lived with my fellow Wolverines and figure skaters Trevor Young, Charlie White and Alex Shibutani // (R) With fellow figure skater Rockne Brubaker at a Michigan football game

Selfie at the Great Wall (in a Michigan hat!)

March Madness is here again and so begins arguably the craziest few weeks in college sports. Whether you are a college basketball fan or not, the tourney is always good TV. If you are addicted to the bracketology of it all, you are not alone. In fact, as I sit here filling out my bracket online while writing this blog, the website is failing to load, assumingly overloaded with other users. It seems every year this basketball tournament sends the entire country into a craze – thusly named March Madness.

Every year, a Cinderella team surprises and goes deep in the tournament. Last year it was the No. 11 seeded University of Dayton Flyers going all the way to the Final Four. As a Michigan fan, watching Dayton upset the Ohio State Buckeyes last year was like having Christmas morning in mid-March. The memory of those crestfallen Buckeye faces is almost enough to make up for the fact that Michigan isn’t even in the tourney this year. That being said, I’m rooting for the Dayton Flyers.

The real story of this year’s tournament is Kentucky’s quest for a perfect 40-0 season. They are the overwhelming favorites and admittedly my own pick to win. It’s hard to pick against them when most analysts claim the best two teams in the country are Kentucky, then Kentucky’s next five players on the bench.

Me and my grandpa after my first skating competition

With Michigan not contending this year, I’m pledging my allegiance to our in-state rivals, the Michigan State Spartans. My late grandpa played basketball for Michigan State in the 1940s and so my family ties make me a non-bandwagon fan. I’m also picking my brother’s alma mater, Wisconsin, along with Gonzaga and Kentucky to round out my Final Four. You can see my full bracket and compete against my picks here.

I love watching college sports because the athletes don’t compete for incentives or contracts, just purely to win. March Madness is particularly addicting because it is predictably unpredictable. There are ALWAYS upsets and unexpected storylines, and also more basketball on TV than anyone can physically watch.

Hopefully it’s pretty clear that I am a huge sports fan. As a kid, I played on so many different sports teams including basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming and even golf, in addition to skating. I remember changing from soccer cleats to figure skates in the back on my mom’s minivan while she drove to the rink. At a certain point the other sports stopped in order to focus primarily on skating.

The closest I’ve been to a basketball court since was this Michigan State fan holding a cheeky sign at a Michigan vs. Michigan State basketball game after the Olympics. The ice dancers had all come from U-M and the MSU fans used it as ammo against us! In between college basketball games you’ll have to watch the World Figure Skating Championships next week. The biggest competition of the season is starting in Shanghai next Wednesday and ending Saturday. I’ll be leaving this Saturday, so I’ll have to find a live stream on the web to watch some of the games next week. Keep up with me on social media, @evan_bates, and tweet me about the tourney.

By the time you’ve read this, my bracket has probably already busted.


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Evan Bates

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