The sun has come out for the first time in what feels like forever. Birds are chirping once again. But I am not excited for springtime because of the warm weather and shorts. No, I am most excited for the best sporting event of the year: March Madness.
Maybe it is because my roots are in North Carolina, the nation’s longtime hub of college basketball. Maybe it is just my sincere appreciation for the hardwood. March Madness stands out as the premier tournament of the year. Sorry, Super Bowl; apologies, Stanley Cup. College football, you don’t even have one, so I’m definitely not going to apologize to you. What is the allure of this sacred championship, you ask? Where do I begin?
There is something about the bracket that draws people together, while also pulling them apart. Everyone — from the ESPN basketball analysts to the middle school kid filling out his bracket for the first time — knows they can win their bracket pool each and every year.
Alas, that dream all so often falls through faster than you can say, “bracket busted.” But even when our hopes and dreams are crushed as one of our final four teams is eliminated in the second round, we don’t lose interest. Who will be this year’s Cinderella story? Will Butler be this year’s Butler? The story lines run deep.
While a good knowledge of the game will often help, chance plays an equal part in this tournament, making it fun for everyone. Friendships are never stronger when you have the same pick and would do anything for that win. They are also put on hold when your pick differs and the fate of the bracket pool winnings depends on that one game.
In the end, it is not about getting the perfect bracket. All that matters is that you beat your friends.
So maybe you’re not into sports — March Madness is still for you. This is your opportunity to embarrass your friend who claims to know everything about college basketball, as chance plays such a large part. The upsets are frequent, and it is truly anyone’s tournament to win. One piece of advice for you novices though, I wouldn’t pick a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed.
Back in high school, every teacher’s TV would be turned on to the games. You could hear yells all the way down the hallway when a buzzer beater was sunk for the win. Work was put on hiatus because, I mean, come on, it’s March Madness.
My big upsets are VCU over Wichita State, N.C. State over both San Diego State and Georgetown, and Florida State in the Elite 8. My final four consists of Kentucky, Syracuse, Marquette and UNC, with Kentucky winning it all. Some of my decisions are based off of knowledge of the game; others are blind guesses. That’s the glory of it. Many bracket pool winners don’t know the first thing about college basketball.
So get your picks in. Grab a bag of Doritos and a cold one. Get on the couch and don’t move until it’s all over. You won’t want to miss a minute of action.