High fashion and devious fakery abound at Reed's March Madness (Photo from 2005). Photo by Orin Bassoff
Reedies packed the sports center on March 15 for an event they had been waiting for all spring. This wasn’t part of RAW, Reed’s annual arts week; it was a very different type of exhibition—March Madness.
Although March Madness at Reed may not feature as many teams—or as much advertising—as the NCAA version, its passion and intensity are unrivaled. This year marked the event’s 25th anniversary, and it showed in the approximately 200 spectators, participants, and supporters alike, who came out to watch the fun.
March Madness is a one-night, single-elimination tournament, featuring eight teams, compiled of Reed students, alumni, professors, and staff. The contest has its origins in 1989 when the Reed student team, which included Erik Brakstad ’89, was clobbered by a team made up of professors. “I thought to myself, where else would the student team lose to the faculty?” Erik said. He founded the tournament as a chance to get even for the loss, and the mania has only mounted since then.
Teams competing in this year’s tournament featured such colorful names as the House Daddies (which included Erik), Just Blasé, the Young Bloods, and the Grill Specials. Highlights included a 55-point blowout of the Grill Specials by the House Daddies, a victory that fell two points short of the all-time tournament scoring record.
In the second round, a tense match between the House Daddies and a student team known as the Paul Pierce Wheelchair Allstars culminated in a buzzer-beating prayer of a three-point shot (by Gabriel!—the Ed.) which sent the game into overtime. The Wheelchairs eventually rolled over the Daddies and headed to the final round.
The championship game pitted the Wheelchairs against Just Blasé, a motley collection of younger alumni. Defying their name, Just Blasé leaped to an early lead with a flurry of jumpshots, and never let up. The final score was 22-6.
After the tournament, many of the players headed up Woodstock to Mickey Finn’s, the traditional post-game meeting-place, some to celebrate victory, others to drown their sorrows. They discussed past tournaments, and made plans for next year when basketball fervor will, once again, make March Madness one of the most exciting, or at least most sweaty, events of Reed Arts Week.