Oh, sweet mother of all things beautiful and righteous, it is here. Finally. Amid much sadness in the world — racial strife in America, international human rights crises, natural disasters and a looming chocolate shortage — joy has returned in the form of a 29.5-inch sphere as it brushes against the nylon nets in its downward trajectory off the fingertips of a 19-year-old kid from Small Town, USA. Glory be to the basketball gods on highest!

We’ve returned from what we have built into something of an annual tradition: going to DC and Arlington in mid-March. In addition to celebrating Dell’s birthday, celebrating Pi Day and celebrating Jim’s wonderful photo-word-a-day Lent blog, Dell and I took some time off to do a little newscasting at the Supreme Court.

But now, we’re coming to you from beautiful suburban Williamsburg, where the college students are well behaved and the retirees aren’t. At tournament central, the Cat Commissioners have been hard at work working brackets and assigning teams, in between belching fur balls and eating unidentifiable food particles off the floor, of course. Here are two of the commissioners in their entry into the So Sweet That Your Teeth Ache photo contest below.

FullSizeRenderWorking with their usual scientific attention to detail, the commissioners have paired some family members so that there are 32 competitors that can be assigned two teams. This year, since, well you know, I WON THE TOURNAMENT, they decided I should sacrifice my individuality and team up with my husband (as we near our 10-year anniversary next month, you would think I’ve learned to do that in our marriage, too. Maybe at 20 years….). So Megan/Mike is one team (M&M). The far lovelier pair of Sarah and Kiran (SarK) is another team. The far more adorable twosome of Rowan and Cora (Coran) are in the mix. And the far wiser quartet of Dot, Lee, Ed and Gwynn (GELD) will seek to deprive us all of our vitality and vigor.

So, without further ado, may I present the 2015 Rhyne-Blyth-Patterson-Mostly-Annual Who-Thought-It-Was-A-Good-Idea-To-Call-The-Thymus-Gland-Of-An-Animal-SWEETBREADS-Family-NCAA-Basketball-Bonfire!!!!

Beth Louisville (4-E) Notre Dame (3-MW)
Carl Kansas (2-MW) Virginia (2-E)
Caroline Arizona (2-W) Wofford (12-W)
Christine Oklahoma State (9-W) Texas Southern (15-W)
Claire Wisconsin (1-W) Georgia State (14-W)
Coran Belmont (15-E) Buffalo (12-MW)
Dan Georgetown (4-S) VCU (7-W)
Daniel Stephen F Austin (12-S) Georgia (10-E)
Dell Lafayette (16-E) Providence (6-E)
Dottie Wyoming (12-E) SMU (6-S)
Dub St. Johns (9-S) Valparaiso (13-MW)
Elaine Iowa State (3-S) Cincinnati (8-MW)
Elizabeth Iowa (7-S) Villanova (1-E)
Ellie NC State (8-E) West Virginia (5-MW)
GELD LSU (9-E) Maryland (4-MW)
Gordon Utah (5-S) Xavier (6-W)
Honor Ohio St. (10-W) Ole Miss (11-W)
Jim Hampton (16-MW) Coastal Carolina (16-W)
Joe Duke (1-S) San Diego State (8-S)
Karen Oklahoma (3-E) New Mexico State (15-MW)
Katie Purdue (9-MW) Northern Iowa (5-E)
Libby Eastern Washington (13-S) Oregon (8-W)
M&M Robert Morris (16-S) Wichita State (7-MW)
Martie Kentucky (1-MW) UNC (4-W)
Mike B UCLA (11-S) Northeastern (14-MW)
Pierce Michigan State (7-E) Indiana (10-MW)
Rebecca Harvard (13-W) Arkansas (5-W)
Rhyne North Dakota State (15-S) Texas (11-MW)
Rivers Davidson (10-S) Gonzaga (2-S)
Robert Dayton (11-E) Albany (14-E)
SarK UC Irvine (13-6) Butler (6-MW)
Susan UAB (14-S) Baylor (3-W)

Congratulations to the holders of our #1 seeds for this tournament: Claire with Wisconsin, Elizabeth with Villanova, Martie with the #1-#1 seed, Kentucky, and Joe with Duke. This might be the only time someone is NOT happy to receive a #1 seed because Carl may become violently ill if he has to pull for his partner’s team. San Diego State, OK, but Duke?

We would also like to extend our advanced condolences to Jim who has not one, but two of the #16 seeds (Hampton and Coastal Carolina). On the bright side, Hampton’s coach had the best moment of the tournament (and I use that term loosely because the play-in games add ZERO value to the Big Dance) when he called Jesus on his cell phone to assess his chances against #1 Kentucky.


Dell has #16 Lafayette, which is the name of my and Rebecca’s high school and which has about as much chance of beating Villanova. M&M has the last #16 of Robert Morris, which could be a close relation to Phillip Morris and will surely get smoked by Duke.

The lowest (best) team totals lie with cousins from each family branch: Carl (4), Marty (5) and Beth (7). And the worst team totals like with a jumble of relations, but also from each family branch: Jim (32), Coran (27) and Rhyne (26).

Rebecca has drawn some interesting picks: the alma mater of her stepmother, and the alma mater of her sister. That alma mater, Harvard, will play the alma mater of Rebecca’s sister, UNC. By the way, who the heck is Alma Mater anyway?

Dottie’s twosome features the cowboys of Wyoming and the wannabe cowboys of people in Dallas. It’s hard to get a 10-gallon hat on a 20-gallon hair-do. Dan’s keeping it close to home with in-town hopeful Georgetown and VCU from D.C. South (also known as Virginia). Speaking of Virginia, Carl in Texas will carry the hopes of his nephew and cousins, Daniel, Honor and Wahoo-in-the-Oven.

Martie carries the hopes of many family members with UNC. Carrying the Dean Smith legacy over the Patterson stronghold on Duke may be trying, but to carry that legacy at the same time as the Adolph Rupp legacy of Kentucky? That’s a battle of good versus pure evil. (And just how sa-weeeeet would it be a HBC beat Rupp’s old team?)

Mike B wins the cross-country award with UCLA on one side and Northeastern on the other. Susan sports the southern syllogism with UAB and Baylor. Coran got alliterative with Belmont and Buffalo. And Dub’s fighting a holy war with the Catholics of St. Johns and the Lutherans of Valparaiso. Don’t MESS with the Lutherans, man; we will reform you to death!

In the first round, it will be sister against sister when Caroline’s Arizona squares off against Christine’s Texas Southern, not to mention brother against sister when Rivers’ Davidson plays Elizabeth’s Iowa.

I’m cutting it close to tip-off, and my stomach’s growling, so I’ll leave you for now. Please add any comments or trash talk to the comment section below.

And here’s wishing you the best of all days. I love you all.


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