My Opinion – A Fishy Bracket

Indiana's Missing Fish and the March Madness Holy Grail

Indiana’s Missing Fish and the March Madness Holy Grail

Well, here we go again. Millions of fanatics are watching college basketball this month, and many of them are bragging about their brackets. It’s March Madness 2024, and the Showalter Fountain fish is still missing. I’ll explain the missing fish later.

When the entire slate of men’s NCAA Division I tournament brackets is released on Selection Sunday (March 17), fans will quickly begin filling out their picks for who will win each of the 63 games. According to Sports Illustrated, approximately 60 million to 100 million brackets are filled out each season.
The chances of filling out a perfect bracket are nearly impossible. Not a single person in the history of the men’s tournament has succeeded in filling out a 100% correct March Madness bracket since the results have been tracked by the NCAA.

The closest any person has ever gotten to filling out a perfect bracket was in 2019, when a fan from Ohio correctly picked the first 49 winners. Unfortunately, the guy’s winning streak was broken after the Sweet 16.

According to, the odds of predicting winners of all 63 games correctly are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. With the odds of recording a perfect bracket at 1 in 9.2 quintillion, the only sure bet is that I won’t win.

Even though I was a student at Indiana University (IU), I never cared much for basketball and to this day, I’ve never attempted to fill out a bracket. In the Hoosier state, basketball is a religion, so to some locals, I guess I was considered a heathen.

However, for a few hours on March 30, 1987, I became an IU basketball fan. Indiana was playing Syracuse for the national championship, and I had joined several housemates in our living room to watch the game on the television.

Not because I cared so much about the game, but because I had just finished my homework, someone brought beer and the guys seemed to be having a great time. I have to admit, the competition was fierce and with just 3 seconds remaining in the game, Keith Smart hit the game-winning shot to give Indiana a 74-73 victory and the 1987 NCAA national title.

Following the game, I ran down to IU’s iconic Showalter Fountain located at the center of our campus with the rest of my housemates. I guess I got caught up in the excitement because it was just 30 degrees outside, and I was wearing only a T-shirt, sweatpants and my favorite pair of flip-flops.

The crowd was massive, excited and mostly drunk. The mob’s collective behavior was mostly positive and celebratory, however, a few fans took things a bit too far. A handful of students, I assume fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, jumped into the fountain’s frigid water, while others proceeded to climb the sculpture of Venus and the five bronze fish that had been installed in the fountain in 1961.

I became trapped in the mob and soon suffered the consequences of partying without proper footwear. Someone stepped on my heel, which caused my left flip-flop to come off my foot.
The crowd was tightly packed and surged unpredictably so much so that my friend advised me not to bother searching for the flip-flop at that time, as it might lead to me being trampled. Alas, we retreated from the raucous event without my left flip-flop.

The next day I woke up early, washed my filthy left foot and rode my bike to the fountain, only to discover an expansive sea of red Solo cups, beer cans and quite a few shoes. The debris left behind by the revelers was somewhat amusing considering the circumstances.

However, later that day, university staff announced that hooligans had made off with the sculpture of a 200-pound bronze fish during the celebration. But as luck would have it, I found a flip-flop that I believed was mine, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Campus police were left with no leads, and the university never received a ransom note, so for the next 22 years, the story of the missing Showalter Fountain fish became folklore.
In 2009, the university commissioned its replacement and a new fish was installed. Astonishingly, more troublemakers raided the fountain in 2010 and ran off with the second-string fish. Fortunately, a mold of the sculpture was created by a Detroit company and has been used repeatedly by the university to reproduce the water-spewing fountain-dweller when needed.

In 2013, one of the bronze reproductions was spotted on Instagram, so university officials began negotiating the repatriation of the fish. Immunity from prosecution was offered, and the hefty bronze fish was recovered from an undisclosed location.

Over the last decade, the now legendary fish has survived the shenanigans of many vandals and would-be thieves, yet the location of the original Showalter Fountain fish remains a mystery.
I’m guessing this year’s March Madness will come and go with no sign of the elusive water-spewing fish or a basketball fan with a perfect bracket — but I remain hopeful for both.
Good luck with your brackets, and let me know if you find the fish:

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