What I’m Hearing: Belmont just knocked off Temple in their First Four game and after speaking with head coach Rick Byrd, USA TODAY Sports’ Scott Gleeson tells us why this is a team that could make a Cinderella run.
If you are one of those fans who parachutes in for the NCAA tournament just to fill out a bracket (no judgment), you might be a little confused by some of the language from TV broadcasters and fans during the games.
This tournament features its own special vernacular and catchphrases that you won’t find in Merriam-Webster. (Onions!!)
Here’s a guide to some of the top phrases you’ll hear throughout March Madness.
Anteaters — Zot! Zot! Zot!: The UC-Irvine mascot and, according to the comic strip “B.C.,” the sound an anteater makes when it strikes. Every UC-Irvine game will feature a heavy dose of “Zot! Zot! Zot!” chants.
Use it in a sentence: Anteaters with the bucket [Zot! Zot! Zot!].
Big Dance: You’ve heard this a lot already … the tournament as a whole is considered the Big Dance. Which explains all of the dancing cliches used to describe teams (Cinderella, the glass slipper, dancing shoes).
Use it in a sentence: Fairleigh-Dickinson thinks it can become the Cinderella of this year’s Big Dance.
Bill Raftery: The former NCAA basketball coach who has become a tournament institution during his 30-plus years as a commentator for CBS Sports. (See below:“Onions!” and “Send it in, Jerome!”)
Use it in a sentence: The only reason I watch the NCAA tournament is to listen to Bill Raftery.
Bracket-buster: A lower-seeded team upsets a major favorite. Fans who picked the favorite watch their brackets blow up.
Use it in a sentence: UMBC is the biggest bracket-buster in tournament history after the No. 16 Retrievers shocked No. 1-seed Virginia in the first round in 2018.
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Cinderella: A smaller school that becomes the darling of the tournament after upsetting powerhouse teams.
Use it in a sentence: The Wichita State Shockers were the Cinderella of the 2013 tournament, reaching the Final Four before losing to Louisville.
Constant Zion Williamson coverage … of his shoes: Duke superstar freshman Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury after his left Nike shoe blew out during a February game against North Carolina. Basically, the Blue Devils’ national championship hopes depend on whether Zion’s shoes hold up.
Use it in a sentence: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is confident that Zion’s shoes can survive the tournament.
Downtown: When a shooter hits a long three-pointer.
Use it in a sentence: Cameron Johnson, from downtown, and it’s good!
Elbow: On a basketball court, the two corners located 15 feet from the basket where the lane intersects with the free-throw line. A useful position for an offense to begin attacking the basket or to spot-up for a medium-range shot.
Use it in a sentence: Barry Brown puts up a shot from the elbow — and Kansas State jumps ahead.
Endless Masters promos: The Masters begins on April 11, three days after the championship game. And if you weren’t aware that CBS broadcasts the event, they will let you know. Again. And again. And again.
Use it in a sentence: These endless Masters promos featuring Jim Nantz’s buttery voice are quite soothing. Hello, friends.
GQ Jay: Nickname of Villanova head coach Jay Wright. Coach Wright is always impeccably dressed in tailored suits and frequently compared to George Clooney.
Use it in a sentence: Tough spot for the Wildcats, but GQ Jay is not even sweating in his designer suit.
Heat check: After making several three-pointers in a row, a hot shooter puts up another three.
Use it in a sentence: Virginia’s Kyle Guy is feeling it today — looks like he’s going to do a heat check.
Hook-and-hold rule: A hook and hold occurs when a player “hooks” someone over or under his arm while fighting for a rebound but tries to convince the official that the opponent was responsible for the contact.
Use it in a sentence: John Beilein is one of several coaches who has issues with the hook-and-hold rule.
“One Shining Moment”: Song that accompanies emotional tournament highlight video after the championship game.
Use it in a sentence: He started crying when he heard, “The ball is tipped,” the first line of “One Shining Moment.”
“Onions!”: How to explain it … A Bill Raftery original. When a player shows tremendous courage in a tense, difficult situation, he has major — um — guts.
Use it in a sentence: Two seconds left, Zion puts up a shot from way downtown…ONIONS!!!
Roy Williams/vertigo: North Carolina’s Coach Roy scared everyone when he collapsed on the sideline earlier this month. He later said he was suffering from a vertigo spell, something he also experienced during a 2016 game.
Use it in a sentence: Williams said he isn’t worried about another vertigo episode during the tournament.
Seed: A team’s ranking in the four regions that make up the NCAA tournament bracket. Teams are seeded from No. 1 through No. 16, with the higher seed typically expected to advance — but rarely in the tournament do things go according to plan.
Use it in a sentence: Duke is the No. 1 seed in the East Region after going 29-5 in the regular season and claiming the ACC tournament championship.
“Send it in, Jerome!”: Another Bill Raftery gem. This was Raftery’s call after Jerome Lane’s one-handed, backboard-breaking dunk during a 1988 Pitt game.
Use it in a sentence: Oh my, did you see that dunk? Send it in, Jerome!!
Sharpie: CBS analyst Seth Davis tweets “Sharpie” to indicate that a team will advance in the tournament, meaning it’s safe for fans to use a Sharpie on their bracket for that game.
Use it in a sentence: Seth Davis broke out a Sharpie tweet a little too early last year, tweeting, “Virginia. Sharpie” just a couple of minutes into the Cavaliers’ first-round game against No. 16 seed UMBC. (The Retrievers shocked the No. 1 overall seed in arguably the greatest upset in tourney history.)
Survive and advance: The basic goal for any team in the tournament — to simply beat each opponent (regardless of any beauty points) and move on to the next round.
Use it in a sentence: Villanova will survive and advance after a close call in the first round against Saint Mary’s.
Window: Another word for the backboard. You may also hear “glass” used in the same sense.
Use it in a sentence: Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura banks it in off the window.