If this is March, then March Madness is just around the corner.

And I’m not talking about the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, either. I’m talking about the one-and-only Hvac 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, created out of a joke three years ago, but which has now blossomed into a “big event.”

In the eyes of Bill Bissmeyer, that is.

Bissmeyer, a salesperson at the heating and ventilation firm of B&B Air, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, is the glorified promoter of this event, which is turning heads in the hvac industry. (And, if I am not mistaken, the heads are turning the other way, especially when witnessing an overweight and “under-exercised” technician and/or contractor attempting a dunk. Trust me, it’s not a pretty sight.)

Seriously, this is a legitimate basketball tournament, and, as Bissmeyer notes in his promotional piece, it is open to the hvac industry. In the first-ever Hvac 3-on-3 basketball tourney in 1998, 12 teams participated. Last year, 35 teams participated. This year, thanks to word-of-mouth marketing, Bissmeyer expects to have at least 70 teams compete in two different brackets.

Since there is still time to enter (in fact, you can have a walk-on team come in the day of the event, which is the evening of March 20), the number of entered teams may grow to 100 for 2000 …or so Bissmeyer hopes.

Magic number: 135

Yes, I’ll say it again. This 3-on-3 basketball tourney is for those in the hvac industry. Here’s the catch. The three-man team must have a combined age of not less than 135 years, which, says Bissmeyer, “means they must average at least 45 years old each.”

Do the math.

In other words, if I were to enter this tourney, I’d have to find two more good players, but their combined age would have to be 90. This means I could get a spry 20-year-old and a 70-year-old who could (hopefully) still hit that set shot from the outside. Or, I could get a 30-year-old and a 60-year-old. Get the picture?

This is no lie: The Stevens’ clan has already entered the showdown in Indianapolis March 20 — that’s father Wayne Stevens (age 67), son Marty (age 45), and younger son Kyle (age 23). Their combined age is 135, right on the entry mark. For that matter, the total age of the defending champs is 151. That three-man winning team consists of Carl Heisserer, Pete Beiriger, and Wes Anderson. They represent HBA in Lawrence, IN, the McQuay dealer for the state of Indiana.

“They wanted the [combined] age [limit] to increase,” said Bissmeyer, referring to the defending champs.

Dunk you very much

Each game is to 10 points, with each basket counting as one point. However, there is a 15-minute time limit per game. If neither team has scored 10 points in 15 minutes of playing time, the team with the highest score at the end of the time limit moves on to the next round.

No foul shots will be attempted in this tournament, either. (All of that hacking is designed to “make a man out of you,” right?)

“This is a big deal for us,” says Bissmeyer. “This year’s NCAA finals will be hosted in Indianapolis. I guess you could say the festivities start a little earlier.”

Translation: The Hvac 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is to be held two weeks before the NCAA men’s basketball championship game. On Monday, March 20, the tourney is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. at St. Lawrence’s gym, which is located on the northeast side of Indy. This facility has six baskets, so Bissmeyer estimates that the champ will be crowned by 10 p.m. that same evening.

Now, one can stick around for more festivities, as the NCAA finals will be held two weeks later, with the championship game slated for Monday, April 3, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in downtown Indy. And, according to Bissmeyer, expect Indianapolis to go crazy as the host city.

“This is a big deal for Indianapolis,” he says. Basketball “is like a religion here.”

One has to agree. Have you seen the movie Hoosiers? Have you ever seen Bobby Knight throw a chair across a gym floor? Case closed.

For the record, the second bracket to this 3-on-3 tournament is considered open. This means this bracket is open to one and all — all sizes, shapes, and ages — and participants do not have to be a member of the hvacr family.

Bissmeyer did not say anything about women entering, but I am sure he would like to see a few women’s teams participate. If you’re interested in fielding a team or entering, contact Bissmeyer by phone (317-546-3000) or by fax (317-542-5160).

See you there? Yeah, I might field a team. And that was just a warning, hvacr world.