Despite the electrifying excitement and rousing school spirit, for most fans, March Madness will ultimately lead to heartbreak. The NCAA men's basketball tournament began last week with a field of 68 teams, but on April 3, there will only be one champion. As teams are eliminated from the bracket, their emotional fans may remain relevant, just as the "Crying Northwestern Kid" meme became March Madness's favorite fan over the weekend.
The expressive kid became an internet favorite on Saturday, when No. 8 seed Northwestern went up against No. 1 seed Gonzaga. Only one team could advance to the coveted Sweet 16 round, and with only one loss all season, Gonzaga seemed to have the upper hand. Still, the game was competitive. During the second half, it apparently — and understandably — got to be too much for one young Northwestern fan, who was lucky enough to watch the game in person. Unluckily enough, his meltdown was televised, as the game slipped away from Northwestern. The Gonzaga Bulldogs went on to win the game and secure their spot in the Sweet 16. But the real winners may have been March Madness fans, who just got a new, relatable GIF in the form of Crying Northwestern Kid.
In addition to crowning the top collegiate men's basketball team, the March Madness tournament every year also crowns new winners of the internet. Crying Northwestern Kid joins a class of champions before him, including last year's Kentucky Band Girl, who cried through her performance at Kentucky's second-round loss to Indiana in 2016. Little Crying Dayton Fan also made a debut during last year's tournament. The inevitable sadness is relatable, and that's what makes these sad fans so special.
If you're a Northwestern fan, though, there may be extra reason to cry this year. The Wildcats had never before made it into the NCAA tournament. Last week, Northwestern narrowly beat Vanderbilt in its first-ever March Madness game. With Saturday's loss to Gonzaga, the Wildcats' NCAA tournament record will sit at 1-1, until they get another chance to prove themselves next year.
Given the history of Northwestern's men's basketball program, crying seemed an acceptable emotion for Saturday's heartbreaking loss to Gonzaga. As the Bulldogs advance to the Sweet 16, no doubt trying to avoid an upset like the one that reigning champ Villanova suffered on Saturday, Crying Northwestern Kid will go down as March Madness's most relatable victim to date.