March Mad­ness? Casino gam­bling? Each has a pas­sionate fol­lowing but when they are com­bined, the expe­ri­ence is an incred­ible whirl­wind of emo­tion. Alan Zaremba, asso­ciate pro­fessor in com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies, has cap­tured this energy in his latest book, “The Mad­ness of March: Bonding and Bet­ting with the Boys in Las Vegas.” The story takes readers through the mem­o­rable sights and sounds of the first weekend of the National Col­le­giate Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion (NCAA) bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment in 2007, chron­i­cling why there’s no greater time for sports hys­teria in Vegas.

What prompted you to write your book?

In 2001, my brother con­tacted me about an article he’d read that listed 100 things to do before you die. One of those things was to go to Las Vegas during the first week of the NCAA tour­na­ment. Shortly there­after, I read a short piece in Sports Illus­trated with the same mes­sage. We went, and it was as adver­tised. It was good fun, and we met some very quirky folks. We went again in 2003 and had a sim­ilar expe­ri­ence, and I began to think that there was a book in there. I thought that the people I met rep­re­sented a dis­tinc­tive sub­cul­ture that would be fun to describe, enjoy­able to read about, and I thought the book might be valu­able for those who examine cul­ture and subcultures.

Who are the people who flock to Las Vegas for the tournament?

For the most part they are just fans, cer­tainly not invet­erate gam­blers. I have a cousin who heard about what I was doing and said, “So, you’re studying degen­er­ates.” That’s not my feeling at all. The people I met—while quirky—were on a vaca­tion doing some­thing they love doing. … They are col­lege bas­ket­ball fans out for a good time, which to them is watching 48 bas­ket­ball games in four days.

What moment or char­acter exem­pli­fies the expe­ri­ence of being in Vegas for the tour­na­ment? Does one in par­tic­ular come to mind?

Sev­eral come to mind. There was one fellow who was waiting in line to bet who kept mut­tering, “The only luck I have is bad luck,” as if it was a mantra. Yet despite that, he was still in a queue that con­tin­u­ally con­tributes to the col­lec­tive wealth of the state of Nevada. Another man told me that if I wanted a winner I should just listen to what he is going to do, and bet the other way. Prob­ably the classic image I have, though, is of a guy in a restroom who appar­ently didn’t want to waste a minute because he was mul­ti­tasking, staring at a bet­ting sheet the whole time.

Is there more cama­raderie or rivalry between bettors?

Much more cama­raderie. You’re bet­ting against the house. And even they are happy when you win. This way you will come back.

Did you get swept up in the excite­ment yourself?

Yes. It’s tough not to be. If you don’t bet fool­ishly — and I wouldn’t and didn’t — it’s a fun ride.