One of my favorite times of year is imminent: March Madness, that multiweek feast of triumph and heartbreak that is the NCAA basketball tournament. I’m not just talking about the men’s sport; as a South Carolinian I’d be remiss not to mention the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Gamecocks women’s team, current favorites to win the national championship in a few months. To get in a hoops frame of mind, I’d like to recommend two pertinent March books.

You can’t go wrong with anything by Hanif Abdurraqib, former Kirkus Prize finalist and acclaimed author of A Little Devil in America, Go Ahead in the Rain, and They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. In his latest book, There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension (Random House, March 26), the author delves into one of his favorite topics, in what our critic calls “an innovative memoir encompassing sports, mortality, belonging, and home.” When he was a kid, Abdurraqib, who is from Columbus, Ohio, grew up celebrating the talents of local basketball legends, none more iconic than LeBron James, and he interweaves his thoughts on basketball and sports in general into a deeper investigation of identity, family, and community.

“Abdurraqib’s complex love of the sport and its players,” notes our review, “mirrors the complexity of his love for his home state, where he’s spent time unhoused as well as incarcerated, and where his mother passed away when he was only a child.” There’s Always This Year is a book not just for basketball fans, but for anyone interested in philosophical meditations on home, as well as tales of personal triumph against difficult odds.

My next suggestion will be most appealing to college basketball fans, especially those who appreciate the storied history of the game. Anyone with even a passing interest in the game is aware that UCLA is one of the most successful college basketball programs ever, one of the true blue bloods, along with Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and North Carolina. In Kingdom on Fire: Kareem, Wooden, Walton and the Turbulent Days of the UCLA Basketball Dynasty (Atria, March 5), veteran sportswriter Scott Howard-Cooper takes readers into the very heart of UCLA basketball. As coach John Wooden built a dynasty that would eventually encompass 10 championships from 1964 to 1975, he was also struggling to relate with a new generation of players that included future legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) and Bill Walton, long-haired hippie and consummate Deadhead.

It was a tumultuous time but ultimately, writes our reviewer, “the three men learned from each other, sharing notable victories and stinging losses. At the end of his career, Wooden was more relaxed and beloved as a kind of grandfather to the world; Abdul-Jabbar became more forgiving while still working ceaselessly for civil rights; and Walton, still a hippie, became inclined to kindness and tempered observations.” Howard-Cooper provides a treasure trove of fascinating stories for hoopheads of all generations, in a book sure to please not just UCLA Bruins fans, but followers of the college game in general.

Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction editor.