Welcome to a new feature that might go weekly at TOC - "Friday I'm in Love", inspired by the exquisite song of the same name by The Cure. Each week on Friday morning I'll go over an aspect of Michigan State that makes it a great school to go to. This week I look at an event that takes place at 10:30 tonight at the Breslin Center (doors open at 9:30) - Midnight Madness.
I went to Midnight Madness for the first time last year (shameful, I know), and was blown away by the tightness of the presentation. The ladies opted for a skit loosely based on the movie House Party, and it worked out alright, even if I was disappointed that no one rocked the flattop Kid from Kid 'n Play had in that work of cinematic magic. I mean, Kid gets to rap more than once in the movie? The question to ask here isn't why were there two sequels, but why weren't there more than two sequels.
The gentlemen ballers went for a less scripted approach, walking down from the lower deck aisles once introduced. The best part of these introductions was the jets of flames behind the backboards that ignited each time a player was announced. They look impressive in pictures and on television, but in person it's better for two reasons: one, the flame's heat can be felt in the very back of the upper deck, and two, the flames reach such a height that they appear to incinerate some of the banners. F YOU PAST, THIS SEASON IS THE ONE THAT MATTERS.
And then it's time for Izzo's entrance. He's had some memorable ones over the years - from the dangerous (coming down from the roof) to the folksy (coming in on a horse in 2003) to the historically confused (dressed up as a hippie in 2009 to celebrate the '79 title team. A disco suit would've been much more accurate and gnarly). Last year, rubber mats were laid down from the court entrance through center court, and since the Final Four was in Indianapolis last year, I could guess what was coming. Sure enough, Izzo drives in on the Formula Racing Team's car. Part of the reason I'm going this year is to see what he'll do to top himself. My guess - rocket powered horse since the Final Four's in Houston. (Don't laugh. There's a lot of crazy stuff in the Engineering building.)
The final two things about Midnight Madness that I adore - the video that shows before the players are introduced is usually a tearjerker. It might have been a special thing last year since they had behind-the-scenes footage from Detroit, but they could show Korie beating Maryland on loop for ten minutes and I would be just as happy. Lastly - the basketball itself. A scrimmage concludes Midnight Madness, and its excellence is derived not from its quality, but its existence. It's the blades of grass that break through the snowdrifts in March, it's the smell of Fall. It's a sign that change is no longer theoretical, but concrete. Basketball's back, folks. Go crazy.