The feeling has festered within you for days. Sadness soured into anger. Anger acidified into vengefulness. Now, you find yourself hopelessly longing, wishing for a chance to see Sunday afternoon’s atrocity in Raleigh vindicated. You are hollow and empty, jonesing for just one more taste.

You need some consolation (games).

It’s time we integrated some of the “Everyone’s a winner!” level-headedness of elementary school with the cutthroat lunacy of March Madness. It’s time we erased the assonant and ever-asinine “one-and-done” from the sporting lexicon forever. Time we gave the Retrievers, Saints and Governors of the world a second chance, the Delta Devils a shot at redemption.

It’s time to bring back the consolation bracket.

“Back” is not exactly the preferred nomenclature. The NCAA Tournament has never had a true losers’ bracket, although each region did hold a “third place” game until 1975, and a bronze medal contest pitting the lesser halves of the Final Four against one another existed until 1981. This would be different. This would be better.

It would be simple, really – just take the field of 65, and work inside out. The loser of each opening-round game would play the other loser after the advancing teams finished their games. The same formula would follow for the regional and final rounds. Continuing the tourney would eliminate the epic withdrawal that follows each NCAA weekend, when we go from having nonstop, thrilling basketball on television all day Thursday through Sunday, to having nothing but miserably meaningless NIT matchups Monday through Wednesday. It’s like giving a heroin addict pure Afghan smack for four straight days, then ripping the needle from his veins and handing him a poppy seed muffin.

If the first- and second-round losers squared off during the three off days, we could avoid the cold sweats, vomiting, involuntary muscle twitches and general feelings of malaise. LaDainian Tomlinson could tell us 5,000 more times about how his quick smells like French toast (I will never, no matter how many times I am forced to watch that commercial, understand what the hell he is talking about). Michael Jordan could remind us 5,000 more times that there are, indeed, in case you have forgotten over the past five seconds, no Cinderellas. CBS could share the wealth (God forbid they scrap “How I Met Your Mother” and the rest of their wildly popular weeknight sitcom lineup) with another network (think TBS or TNT), and Billy Packer wouldn’t have to leave the darkly-lit cave he sleeps in while not on the air.

Contrary to what Don Joe Lunardi would tell you, a consolation bracket would not dilute the purity of March. If anything, there would be more upsets. It would be so satisfying to see still-inspired Mount St. Mary’s (a 16 seed) beat the apathetic Indiana team that slept through a first-round loss to Arkansas. Adolph Rupp would spin in his grave when Cornell snuck past Kentucky. Many of the matchups would pit evenly matched teams against one another, so there were would be no shortage of buzzer-beating heroics. Clemson (fifth seed) and Vanderbilt (fourth seed) would have been fun, as would George Mason-Winthrop (12 vs. 13) and Baylor-Georgia (11 vs. 14).

ore rounds would mean more face time for the game’s lesser-known stars. For most people, the NCAA’s opening weekend is the only opportunity to see the cream of the small-conference crop. Since Drake fell to Western Kentucky and Butler was clipped by Tennessee, we caught only a glimpse of the amazing Adam Emmenecker and barely snuck a peak at an outstanding A.J. Graves. Last Tuesday night, when you turned on ESPN and found Donte Greene chunking bricks at the Carrier Dome ceiling for the umpteenth time this season, wouldn’t you have rather seen something fresh and new, say Cal State Fullerton’s Josh Akognon – who sank 101 three-pointers this season – raining buckets on cross-state rival USC?

But the best part of outer-bracket ball would be watching angry early-round underachievers vent their frustration. How sadistically pleasing would it be to watch the mad version of Roy Hibbert (the “monster” you saw play against West Virginia in the Big East tournament) abuse Dominique Sutton, Kansas State’s 6-foot-4 “forward?” Or USC’s O.J. Mayo have his way with Cal State Fullerton? How about UConn running circles around BYU, while Jim Calhoun slanders Mormonism under his breath on the sideline?

Prepare yourself for another incredible weekend – the possibility of a stunning 1-2 clash between Memphis and Texas. Or an irresistible-force-meets-immovable-object collision when Kansas meets Wisconsin. But what happens when you wake up alone and cold the morning after?

Wouldn’t it be great to have Tennessee and Washington State hanging around on Monday, or Michigan State and Stanford to see you through Tuesday? What about Stephen Curry vs. Scottie Reynolds the following night, fighting to fit the glass slipper on their feet? (Oops, sorry . I forgot about the non-existent Cinderellas.)

See how quickly we are to forget MJ? Better get some more commercials on the air.

Harlan Goode is a senior in the College. He can be reached at goodethehoya.com. The Goode Worde appears every Friday in HOYA SPORTS.

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