March Madness special for Martha Harris


The main topic around the water cooler in March is not of the weather but college basketball, as millions of people try to predict the future.

They watch frantically back and forth from the game to their bracket, to see if they are correct.

Buzzer-beaters, upsets, Cinderellas versus Goliaths and narrowing 65 teams to one, and the word best used to describe it is madness. Except for the Final Four, it all happens in March.

Martha Harris, professor of business and economics, has been a fan of March Madness for more than 20 years.

“I can remember probably like my junior and senior year in high school being at play practice and listening to the ball game on the radio and people thinking I was weird,” she said.

In high school, she was a fan of the University of Kansas and University of California, Los Angeles, during the John Wooden era, as she could watch a UCLA game from the west coast late on Saturday nights.

The idea of a Cinderella team, a mid-major, lower-seeded team that makes a run in the tournament, has become one of the centerpieces of the madness.

“I love the Cinderella stories. I love the Stephen Curry’s, the little guys that come out and the immediacy of everything, the emotion of everything,” Harris said.

When filling out her bracket, Harris said she does one where she will try and study, making sure to include the ever-popular No. 12 seed upset over a No. 5 seed. Then, sometimes Harris and her daughter will “get kind of goofy” and make picks based on which colors they like better or sometimes which mascot could beat up the other.

Harris even said she doesn’t teach abroad in the spring because she would miss watching the tournament with family and friends.

“It still just wouldn’t be the same,” Harris said. “It would be really tough for me to be gone over the spring.”

Harris’ basketball fanhood can be seen in her office with her line of autographed basketball shoes.

She has shoes autographed by Hakeem Olajuwon, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Danny Manning, who she said is “my all-time hero,” Jason Kidd, Dominique Wilkins and Patrick Ewing.

It’s no surprise students on campus share Harris’ passion for college basketball in March.

“I tried to catch as many games as I could without having to miss class or homework or anything like that,” sophomore Colleen Doran said. “I used to play basketball when I was younger, so I’ve always had basketball in my life in some way or another.”

Junior Wes Comfort said March Madness has always been big in his family, and he looks forward to the first couple of days of the tournament when it’s nonstop basketball.

For Kansas fans, last year’s national championship game, and more specifically, Mario Chalmers’ last-second shot, is a prime example of the madness that takes place in the NCAA Tournament.

“It was like a movie. It felt like a movie. Everything that needed to happen happened,” Comfort said. “When they got that one at the buzzer, when Chalmers hit that, it was just, it just felt like that was what was supposed to happen.”