Sunday, March 20, 2011
What is your favorite weekend out of the year? I have two: the weekend of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, and the weekend of rounds one and two of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Wait…correction…rounds two and three of the tournament. This year the NCAA decided that instead of a pool of 64 they would allow 68 teams into the tournament. There was also an extra “round” added. The first two nights would consist of two games each, determining the four additional teams that would be added to the tournament. So, in other words, play-in games. This was no round one. Call a spade a spade. Doug Gottlieb, ESPN Basketball Analyst, illustrated quite effectively that it was like his wife getting an invite to the neighborhood barbeque. The invitation says it starts at 7’oclock…and she actually wants to show up at 7’olock. You don’t show up to the party at seven. You show up around 7:30…8:00…8:30. Everyone knows that…everyone but the NCAA apparently. Don’t call play-in games round one and don’t expect us to watch them. We will show up when the dance really starts...and we won’t stop partying till closing time!
I don’t really know why year after year March Madness gets my total attention, but I can assure you that it has me wrapped around its finger like a controlling boyfriend, demanding all my attention and dictating my schedule. I have filled out a bracket since I was about twelve years old. I get super competitive about my picks and highly frustrated when things don’t go my way, and they usually don’t. I mean who picks Morehead State to beat Louisville...that knows anything about basketball?! The best part about filling out a bracket for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is that no matter how much you know, or how much research you do, you will most likely be stunned, frustrated and humbled within a day of the tournament. However, every now and they you get it right, and it is so satisfying. In 1998, my brother-in-law took me to the Midwest Regional first round games at the Myriad Convention Center in Oklahoma City. I was big Kansas Basketball fan growing up so I went to see Kansas play Prairie View. The game prior was Valparaiso vs. Ole Miss. I was the only one in our section cheering for Valpo because I had picked them in my bracket. With a Bryce Drew buzzer beater 3-point shot, Valpo advanced! It was an incredible moment, and one that is mentioned every year during the ESPN Bracketology special…a note as to what could happen. It happens every year…it is what literally makes March such madness…it is why we even care. Upsets make sports thrilling, whether we are benefiting or barely able to stomach them.