By Bailey VenJohn
Staff reporter

She watches games all season, especially her favorite team, the Kansas State Wildcats. When March rolls around, the watching becomes serious. The person who fills out brackets and cares and knows more about this tournament more than anyone I know is my grandma, Mary Alice Carlile.

My family has filled out brackets for as long as I can remember. I haven’t exactly excelled at it, but you could say I am decent.

March Madness has fallen nothing short of its name this year: madness is really the only way to describe it.

Underdogs this year haven’t disappointed either. Three No. 12 seeds knocked off five seeds in the first round. Florida Gulf Coast University was a surprise when they conquered the No. 2 seed, Georgetown. This was only the second year FGCU was eligible for the NCAA tournament.

The big deal about the tournament for most people is picking teams for their brackets. Which team is going to go all the way and which are going to fall short?

Once all the seeding and matchups come out, Grandma starts her research. She listens to all the shows on ESPN to hear about which team they are picking for each game.

She said, “I watch ESPN, look at the paper to see who’s favored and the team records. I also pay attention to the teams with the most seniors.”

So why does she like March Madness so much? Grandma said, “Every game they play, their hearts out, because it’s the only way they are going to keep playing. It is win or die.”

Ever since she retired in 2000, she has had the time to follow college basketball closely, and she has done just that.

When it comes to games, she prefers to see the upset. Unless it is her team, that is.

One of her favorite tournament stories involved my grandpa and a new kitchen floor.

Grandma came home one day in 1995, and he was laying a new floor. She walked into the house and noticed a gap a couple inches wide between floorboards. Grandpa said, “You can just cover it with a rug.” Grandma asked, “Well, how did that happen?” and Grandpa answered, “Well, I was watching a game.”

My brother, Cooper, thinks the championship is the most exciting part. Grandma was quick to disagree: “Every game is good and exciting because they want to win. Every game is back and forth.”

In the Final Four, Grandma had Louisville, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Indiana picked. While this Final Four isn’t realistic, since Georgetown and Gonzaga were beat out early, her championship game is still a possibility between Louisville and Indiana. She has Indiana taking it all.

Bailey VenJohn is a freshman majoring in communication. You may email her at bailey.venjohn@sckans.edu.