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Marathon Madness Survival Guide

Nov 12, 2012, 3:00 PM EST

Mason Plumlee, James Vincent

Staying awake for 24 hours is a daunting task.

If you’ve ever attended college, then it’s likely you have at least one experience puling an all-nighter. Whether it’s memorizing all the bones that make up the human skull, a term paper on the Federalist papers, or watching Houston Baptist play Hawaii at 4:00 a.m., the human brain does not operate at normal capacity when the midnight oil is burning.

But with some trusty survival tips from our College Basketball Talk staff, this will be the year that you make it through all 24 hours of ESPN’s third annual Marathon Madness.

(NOTE: let us know what Marathon Madness survival tips you think are necessary by leaving a message in the comment section below)

Food & Beverage Tips:

- Stay away from the caffeine early. Given the fact that many of us are employed that coffee or Red Bull can look mighty seductive early. But no, leave that for the Tuesday afternoon games just before the stretch run. Go with water instead. (RJ)

- Put off the energy drinks and the coffee until the last possible minute. It’s only possible to survive on those for a certain amount of time, so waiting until the 4am Houston Baptist-Hawaii tip is your best bet. (RD)

- Snack on fresh fruits and veggies. Eating chips and pizza and what not will only tire you out. And stay away from any leftover Halloween candy. (RD)

- Light snacks. Chex Mix, or that handy 2 lb. bag of Sour Patch Kids (this is my go-to) keeps you active as opposed to that pizza you may be favoring, which can weigh you down quickly. (RJ)

- Don’t drink. That’s great for evenings when you have nothing to do, but this is basketball, it’s serious business. (EA)

- When digesting food, make sure to move around like Kobayashi. It won’t make you eat more, but it will help keep up your heart rate. (TM)

Viewing Tips:

- Halftimes are key, especially early on and late in the marathon. Use these for 20-minute power naps, taking the dog outside, and showering. Using halftime effectively significantly improves your chances of staying up for the entirety of the marathon. (DM)

- Multi-platform viewing allows you to be on the go and still keep up with games. Tablet computers, laptops, and smartphones all come in handy here. (DM)

- If you must nap, pause the DVR as soon as halftime begins, and set a 30 minute alarm. You’ll miss the talking heads, and be able to skip a few commercials when you wake up. (EA)

- Mix in some non-basketball related content at halftimes. Video games and social media are a way to keep the mind from going all zombie. Watching a marathon of college basketball is all, mental, anyway. (DH)

- Watch for telling moments. It was during the marathon a couple of years ago that I saw Gene Keady reach out and hook an index finger under the back collar of Steve Lavin’s shirt during a ref-induced tirade, essentially yoking his boss. It was a fascinating look into a complex relationship, and it happened in the blink of an eye. (EA)

- Prop bets keep things interesting. If you’re watching with friends or family, place $1 bets on small, seemingly inconsequential things. Which player throws down the game’s first dunk? At what point in the game will the TV cameras show the first shot of the student section or cheerleaders? (DM)

Staying Sane:

- Slow and steady wins the race. Pace yourself. Don’t try to live-blog every minute of every game or you will be cooked well before the 4:00 a.m. Houston Baptist vs. Hawaii tip. (TM)

- Talk to yourself. Talk to the screen. I’ve found myself waving players into position, questioning a coach’s sanity and asking myself if I’d like more pretzels “yes, yes I would, thank you.” (EA)

- Music. Falling asleep at the halfway point? Plug in the headphones and blast some heavy metal (or whatever you prefer) for a bit. (RJ)

- DON’T LAY DOWN ON YOUR COUCH! Sit up. You’re already conceding defeat if you go horizontal. Naps are fine for halftimes, but there’s no way anyone can be totally “comfortable” while watching 24 hours of college basketball. Nothing that is truly a “marathon” is comfortable. Stay committed. (DH)

- Late night exercise. If you live in a big apartment building, do sprints down the corridor. Toe-touches and trunk lifts are also effective. (TM)

- Be interactive. Chat with us scribes in-game via twitter and post comment sections. A lively conversation makes it so much easier to stay awake. (EA)

- Animals make for a great late-night companion. After all, who cares if you’re talking to a cat during the Houston Baptist vs. Hawaii game. (TM)

- Head over to sporcle.com and work your way through the basketball quizzes during commercial breaks. It keeps the mind sharp. (EA)

- Appreciate the ride. Name me one other sport that does a live 24-hour marathon of games? There isn’t one. Take in the first tip-off, the student sections from the 6 and 8 a.m. games and the weird fascination with a 4 a.m. EST live game in Hawaii each year. It’s unique. And as hoopheads, it’s ours. (DH)