Another week, another court-storming. In what has become the only predictable result in NCAA men’s basketball, last night students cheering on their home team (Minnesota) wildly flooded the court after upsetting a higher-ranked team (Indiana). The (over)reaction has become so ubiquitous, you’d think the NCAA had started awarding banners for it.
This season has produced many court-stormings more dubious than Minnesota’s last night. The Golden Gophers hadn’t beaten a No. 1-ranked team in 24 years, and they finally played to their potential. But court-storming can lay bare a fanbase’s low expectations. Minnesota fans, your team is a lot better than its middling Big Ten record suggests. Act like it. [Related: What does our resident Naysayer think about it?]
Court-storming used to be a spontaneous combustion of pure, unbridled surprise and joy following one of three things: beating Duke, a true Cinderella-story upset, or an epic last-second, improbable, game-winning shot. Now, it’s a matter of ritual not worth the YouTube kilobytes (unless a victorious player lifts a wheelchair-bound student to safety, as a North Carolina State team member did last month in a touching moment that went viral). ESPN noted the trend at the end of January, a month that saw eight storms within two weeks (including Butler, after upsetting Gonzaga). Since then, at least six more courts have been stormed, ESPN weighed in again, and Deadspin defended face-painted sophomores’ right to go nuts.
This isn’t a new debate—ESPN even provided a detailed court-storming rulebook in 2006, citing such bylaws as the Ancient History Exception (“If your national titles predate Texas Western's, you are free to storm the court for any dramatic win over a top-five team”). But here’s how we know it has gone too far: Someone even mulled a hypothetical court-storming against Purdue. Before we get into March Madness, here’s hoping we restore dignity to feverish celebrations. To that end, let’s review some scenarios:
SCENARIO 1: You cap a second-half comeback with a game-winning shot made with less than a second on the clock. What to do: STORM THE COURT! (Illinois def. Indiana 74–72, Feb. 7, 2013)
SCENARIO 2: You’re a ranked team playing an unranked team at home, you’re favored, and you need an overtime to win. What to do: Don’t storm the court. (Oklahoma State def. Oklahoma 84–79, Feb. 13, 2013, and dubiously stormed the court)
SCENARIO 3: A sweet ESPY Award–caliber "trey" lifts your team to victory over its bitter rival, who happens to be ranked No. 1 in the country in the polls and in terms of unlikability. What to do: STORM THE COURT! (Indiana def. Kentucky 73-72, Dec. 11, 2011)
SCENARIO 4: You’re in the SEC, which prohibits court-storming. What to do: Don’t storm the court. (Arkansas def. Florida 80-69, Feb. 5, 2013; fans stayed put)
Proviso: Students will take up a collection to pay the $5,000 fine. What to do: TO HELL WITH IT! STORM THE COURT! (South Carolina def. Kentucky 73-61, February 2005, and students offered the athletic director $1 bills. When SC beat Kentucky again in 2010 for the school’s first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked team, the ensuing court-storming incurred a $25,000 fine.)
SCENARIO 5: You beat a team ranked No. 13. What to do: Don’t storm the court.
Proviso: You’re Nebraska. What to do: STORM THE COURT! (Nebraska def. Indiana 70-69, Jan. 18, 2012)
SCENARIO 6: A one-in-100 half-court shot leads to an overtime victory over the nation's No. 3-ranked team. What to do: STORM THE COURT! (Wisconsin def. Michigan 65-62, Feb. 9, 2013)
SCENARIO 7: It’s not a real game! What to do: Don’t storm the court. (Duke’s team managers def. North Carolina’s team managers 55-52, Feb. 12, 2013)
SCENARIO 8: Somebody on the other team passes the ball to the special-needs team manager put in by the coach in the last game of his final season. And the kid makes the shot. What to do: STORM THE COURT AND CELEBRATE HUMANITY! (Coronado High School in El Paso, TX, def. Franklin High School 55-40, Feb. 12, 2013)
Photo via Minnesota Daily