You’re going to come across some college basketball this weekend. Maybe you’re the biggest fan in the world. Maybe you don’t know a tournament bracket from a graph ruled notebook. Doesn’t matter. Either way, you’re going to run into someone talking about his or her “Final Four” at some point in the next few days. And chances are, you’ll be compelled to tune into a game or ten.
If you’re a beginner, it’s too late to inundate yourself with the history of NCAA basketball and the ins-and-outs of this year’s tournament. But it’s not too late for the Spark Notes version. It’s never too late for the Spark Notes version, kids! Here are the 28 names you need to know to survive this weekend, complete with their corresponding role in parenthesis and a brief description following the dash mark. Happy studying!
1. John Calipari (coach, Kentucky) — the leader of an NBA All-Star-level team that can’t beat mediocre college programs.
2. Gregg Marshall (coach, Wichita State) — the leader of a junior-high basketball-level team that keeps beating mediocre college programs.
3. Aaron Craft (player, Ohio State) — the 24th-year senior who has finally found a way to win basketball games without being good at basketball.
4. Marcus Smart (player, Oklahoma State) — the ideal NBA prospect for his quick temper and world-class ability to flop.
5. Shaka Smart (coach, VCU) — the father of “havoc defense”; not the father of Marcus.
6. Danny Manning (coach, Tulsa) — the former March Madness hero who now coaches Tulsa in a desperate attempt to replicate the glory days.
7. Billy Donovan (coach, Florida) — the former March Madness hero who has successfully replicated the glory days by coaching Florida.
8. Jordan Adams (player, UCLA) — the one who steals all the balls.
9. Brady Heslip (player, Baylor) — the one who shoots all the threes.
10. Doug McDermott (player, Creighton) — the one who scores all the points.
11. Bryce Cotton (player, Providence) — the one who is not Allen Iverson.
12. Joel Embiid (player, Kansas) — the one who is Greg Oden.
13. Danny Kaspar (coach, Stephen F. Austin) — the owner of the best mustache in college basketball.
14. Stephen F. Austin (empresario, Texas Revolution) — the historical figure who led the first successful colonization of Texas.
15. Jabari Parker (player, Duke) — the final attempt to make Duke likable.
16. Dick Vitale (announcer, ESPN) — the little man who swallowed a boy but hasn’t been able to control his excitement.
17. Doug Gotlieb (announcer, CBS) — the little man who swallowed a boy but hasn’t been able to control his propensity for obtusely inappropriate remarks on national television.
18. Tommy Amaker (coach, Harvard) — the smartest man in the NCAA tournament; the dumbest man on Harvard’s campus.
19. Tom Izzo (coach, Michigan State) — the one who’s always in the Final Four and everyone loves him for it.
20. Mike Krzyzewski (coach, Duke) — the one who’s always in the Final Four and everyone hates him for it.
21. Andrew Wiggins (player, Kansas) — the unpaid intern who has made his organization millions of dollars in the past fiscal year.
22. Nick Johnson (player, Arizona) — the athletic one.
23. Kyle Anderson (player, UCLA) — the complete one.
24. Rick Pitino (coach, Louisville) — Steve Buscemi.
25. Jim Boheim (coach, Syracuse) — the proud owner of a secret magical zone-defense known by literally everyone who has ever touched a basketball.
26. Russ Smith (player, Louisville) — the best player in last year’s tournament, who can attribute all of his success to Lil B, the BasedGod.
27. Kevin Durant (player, NBA) — the cursed NBA player who can attribute all of his lack of success to Lil B, the BasedGod.
28. Lil B (god, Basedom) — the lone referee of the NCAA Tournament, probably.