A March Madness Reading List, with Music By Céline Dion

Jim Valvano
North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, shown after his basketball team defeated Houston to win NCAA championship at Albuquerque, N.M., April 4, 1983. (AP Photo)

The idea started last July. Everybody loves buzzer beaters in college basketball—but what if someone were to publicize just those moments on a Twitter feed, and then remix them with a 20-year-old hit Céline Dion song? That, my friends, is a recipe for viral magic.

Fast-forward to the 2017 NCAA tournament, and @TitanicHoops is run by a 28-year old named Steve who works in sports media (he asked that we not publish his full name). Like any good Twitter account (see: @Dog_Rates), it does exactly what you’d expect: it pulls footage of game-winning shots in college basketball and the NBA, and sets them to the crescendo of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.It’s no wonder the Twitter feed now has 12,000-plus followers, and why Steve foresees a bright future for his work. “I want to keep it as a hobby,” he says. “I do other hobbies that resemble what every person my age and demographic does—I try to work out, I play golf, but this is something decidedly different.”

What was the first video you uploaded?

The official take-off day was Christmas, but I had been dabbling with it since last summer. Once every two weeks or so, I would upload historical moments in basketball history. When Kyrie Irving hit that shot to beat Golden State in the NBA finals in June, I had to upload the footage. It was retweeted by the right people, and it just snowballed from there.

After that video, I uploaded Michael Jordan’s shot against Utah in the [1998] finals, and then some other videos from Golden State versus Cleveland, like LeBron James’ decisive block.

So why Celine Dion?

It just kind of works. I’d love to have a smart and sophisticated answer to why I use “My Heart Will Go On.” I understand the stupidity and silliness of the account itself, but the song is just serious enough where you understand it, and silly enough where everyone gets the humor of it. I was aiming for a silly thing to pair with these huge emotional moments that happen in basketball history, but really, the smallest thought went into this.

Have you always used this song?

I experimented with “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston’s version, for an alley oop Kevin Durant did to Russell Westbrook, but I only made one video with that song.

So what has been the most popular video?

The Duke-Syracuse game winner. That hit over a million impressions.

Since March Madness begins on Thursday, do you have some sort of strategy? This must be your busiest time of year.

Well, I am not taking time off work—my work environment is chill enough where I could do this at work. It sounds silly, but I have big things in store for the NCAA tournament. I have historical moments waiting in the archive to upload. And then the tournament always delivers moments.

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For more March Madness reading, here’s a collection of some classic college hoops stories from our archive. (You’ll be responsible for your own soundtrack.)

1. In With A Bang: The Story Behind the Five Most Exciting Seconds of 2016 (Luke Winn, Sports Illustrated)

The play of the year, the dagger to eclipse all NCAA tournament daggers, happened in a sliver of time—10:27:49 to 10:27:56 p.m. in Houston on April 4—that has been elevated to Laettnerdom, isolated and replayed ad infinitum: la fabula Villanova in 4.7 seconds on the game clock, Kris Jenkins to Ryan Arcidiacono to Kris Jenkins for three and the national championship over North Carolina 77–74.

2. Double Trouble (Rob Dauster, NBCSports.com, 2016)

Duke’s J.J. Redick was one of the four seniors on that Preseason All-America team.

The fifth guy on that team?

A floppy-haired, mustachioed junior from Gonzaga named Adam Morrison.

That duo did not exactly enter the season without expectation. They were Preseason All-Americans on top-10 teams at two of the most visible programs in the country. But no one could have predicted the phenomenon that they became, their battle for the nation’s scoring title and the race for Player of the Year becoming one of the biggest stories in sports.

3. Be Like Steph? Lavar Ball and His Sons Are Trying to Change Basketball, One 30-Foot Shot at a Time (Danny Chau, The Ringer, 2016)

So much has to go wrong for a Steph Curry 3-pointer to be deemed a bad shot.

If he’s pulling up from 30 feet, in transition, but there isn’t a defender reactive enough to get a hand up, it’s not a bad shot. If Curry circles around a defense and launches an off-kilter 3 at the first sign of daylight, but draws the eyes of four opponents in the process, it’s not a bad shot. If it breaks all the unwritten laws of respectability on a basketball court — but it goes in? Not a bad shot.

4. The Rabbit Hunter (Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, 1981)

As Bobby Knight is the first to say, a considerable part of his difficulty in the world at large is the simple matter of appearance. “What do we call it?” he wonders. “Countenance. A lot of my problem is just that too many people don’t go beyond countenances.”

5. In Canada’s National Basketball Championship, the Madness is Muted (David Walstein, New York Times, 2017)

The most successful men’s college basketball team of the 21st century opened its title defense on Thursday in front of about 400 people. The Carleton University Ravens were seeking their 13th national championship in 15 years at the Final 8, Canada’s version of March Madness, in a small arena where the loudest noise came from players yelling out defensive assignments.

6. The Game That Saved March Madness (Sean Gregory, Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated, 2014)

I see the rim. I see the rim. A quarter century later, Bob Scrabis can still see the rim.

Seven seconds remained in that first round 1989 NCAA tournament game between Princeton and Georgetown when Scrabis, the Tigers’ captain and lone senior, raised up to shoot the basketball. Before the game Scrabis’ own coach, the chronic pessimist Pete Carril, had set the betting line. “I think we’re a billion-to-one to win the whole tournament,” he said. “To beat Georgetown, we’re only 450 million to one.”