Some people love Christmas, others insist Thanksgiving is the best time of year. For the majority of students I know, they are positive that summer has the top spot. However, all these people are wrong. The best time of the year is March Madness. For everyone that thinks March Madness is some sort of sale or sleezy bar promotion, you’re also wrong. March Madness is the NCAA basketball tournament that takes place in March each year. It’s five rounds — six if you are a play-in team. Single Elimination. Do or Die. Win or Bust.
This isn’t the NBA where players still make millions a year despite the outcome of their team. This isn’t the NFL where players and owners are at odds and refuse to compromise. This isn’t the NHL where you can mess up one game, two games, hell even three games in the play offs and still win the title. This is the NCAA. This is for the name on the front of the jersey, for the dream of cutting down the mesh and winning the Big Dance. This isn’t for the pay stub or the fame. This is for the love of the game and if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have never watched a game well, a) we’re not friends and b) you’re missing out. These boys – there’s a girls tourny too, but honestly girls athletics is like shitty pizza, it’s still pizza so it tastes okay, but it’s just not doing pizza justice – play with heart and it’s amazing to watch. The majority of games come down to the final seconds and it’s nothing for a six seed to knock out an eleven seed in the first round. You can’t beat that.
My favourite team is Duke – cue the haters. However, I do not always fill out my bracket with them winning. I’m a fan but I’m not naive. I understand that currently Singler isn’t shooting well and Irving’s injury makes the team less than special, however, I will tell you why I am going to always cheer for my boys. When I was six years old, my allowance was two dollars a week; my dad was going on one of his business trips to Las Vegas (well that’s what he told me anyways) and asked if I wanted to bet my allowance on any team. I told my dad that I wanted to bet for the Blue team, but the PRETTY blue with the devils on their shirts, not the ugly baby blue (I hated UNC even before I knew that I was supposed to hate UNC). Well my dad went down to Vegas and bet my allowance (plus an extra three dollars because the minimum bet was five dollars). Duke didn’t win that tourny but I’ve been a fan ever since.
Carmelo Anthony won over my heart in 2003 when he put Syracuse on his back and carried them to the championship title, and the following year Okafor killed it at UCONN and took home the title. The years since all mix together in my mind. My GPA drops, my essays go untouched, I spend more time at Weldon watching gamecast than reading textbooks despite me trying to get out of the house for a reason. I refuse to go to any restaurant or bar that won’t be showing the game. To summarize: my life gets put on hold. I hate that the tournament only lasts a month, but I don’t think I’d still be in school if it lasted any longer.
So this year, like every other, I will be filling out a bracket. The following are what I deem the best qualities for a team to possess for the tournament:
1. A Strong Bench: At this level of basketball, starters will need a break. Your bench will make or break you.
2. Foul Shooters: With the majority of games coming down to the wire, if you make your foul shots you win the game. Save the cheerleader, save the world kinda thing.
3. A Garbage Man: No, I don’t mean someone that picks up garbage. I mean that tall, tenacious big man inside that is so scrappy and all the other players hate. He gets all the boards and makes all the put backs. Joakim Noah is the perfect example.
4. A Good Coach: Coach K is a God. Period.
5. Momentum: Maybe the most important, as exemplified by Butler last year, if a team comes off strong wins in Champs Week prior to the tournament, expect to see that momentum carrying through.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready because the tournament begins Tuesday and Wednesday with play-in games and the first rounds begin on the 17th! Fill out your bracket (which you can find here) as soon as possible. Even if you know nothing about the teams, just pick names and school colours that you like. Seriously, it works. As a six year old entrusting my dad with an entire weeks allowance, I didn’t know much either. However, it started a life long obsession that I wouldn’t trade for anything.