Take a deep breath, everyone. We’re halfway through two of the best sports days of the entire year. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament, or as everyone calls it, March Madness, officially began around noon yesterday with a blowout victory by Michigan State over Valparaiso. And as of this writing there are still games that have yet to tip off on day one.
The first two days of the tournament almost feel like a holiday to sports fans, especially in a state like this where so many good teams play. For those two days it seems like nothing else is going on in the world of sports, as TV is dominated by non-stop basketball coverage. And just when you think it’s over, another game begins. Even people who don’t usually follow college basketball get into it and root for their brackets. But for most of you, today is probably the day you care most about. Duke, North Carolina, and NC State all play today. It truly will be mad, and a lot of people will either be happy or disappointed by this time tomorrow.
For many schools and their fans, an appearance in the tournament is as good as it gets. Theoretically any of the 64 teams could win it all in Atlanta on April 8. But realistically there are usually only a select few teams that have a legitimate chance. The lowest seeded team to ever win was No. 8 Villanova in 1985. However, this season is more wide open than previous years, as this season has been filled with upsets. We saw that yesterday when a number one seed almost went down in the first round for the first time ever. Fortunately for Gonzaga and many, many brackets, they managed to pull out the win and delay history.
While the bigger schools expect to make deep runs in the bracket, the smaller schools live for the chance to play the best teams in the country. And this is where the magic, or madness, of the tournament is. Take Florida Gulf Coast for example. The school was only founded in 1991, and this is just the second season that the basketball team has competed in Division I. The Eagles won their conference tournament to earn their first-ever berth in the tournament, and will take on the heavyweight Georgetown Hoyas tonight. It’d be hard for the Eagles not to be intimidated by Georgetown’s 28 NCAA appearances., but that’s the beauty of the bracket format. Any team can be matched up with another, and any team can win. We’ve seen that time and time again with the upsets that draw people to this unique tournament.
Since my college team is not in the tournament, I have no rooting interest. So good luck to you all. Let’s relish the madness that only comes once a year.
Games of interest today:
(2) Duke vs (15) Albany 12:15 p.m. on CBS
(8) NC State vs (9) Temple 1:40 p.m. on TBS
(8) UNC vs (9) Villanova 7:20 p.m. on TNT