What is March to most Americans? A step away from winter? A reminder that summer isn’t that far away? For me, March has been the decline of my sophomore year. I’ve received blows of homework, extracurricular responsibilities, exams, and papers like there’s literally no tomorrow. However, there is one good thing going on right now. It’s a prominent source of entertainment affecting a good majority of Americans, and that is the continuation of March Madness.
Although the month of March is over, the madness is still in full force. Every year since its origin in 1939, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hosts a tournament for 68 Division I Men’s Basketball teams who compete for the top tier of college hoops. The tradition is fantastic. Although not everyone finds themselves equipped to make a run in the ‘tourney,’ fanatics find ways to become connected to the madness.
My friends and I participate each year by printing out a bracket from ESPN and hand-writing our top choices to succeed in the tournament. For those of you a little less familiar with the setup, beginning from the Sweet Sixteen, the bracket is divided by the South, North, East, and West divisions. Teams play their hearts out until one can claim to be the greatest of them all.
Every year there are upsets, disappointments, and stressful outcomes which can make or break a person’s bracket. Some choose to gamble, and ESPN and other sites such as Yahoo Sports, and CBS Sports offer exciting ways to become involved with the tournament off the court. Some risk their wallets, while others such as my broke college friends and myself choose don’t involve any money at all. (Instead we suggest the winner receives bragging rights, and choice of his own cold beverage for the next social outing.)
One of my good friends, Andrew (a sophomore at Bryant University) seems to be a “bracketologist” in his free time. Like or unlike many others, Andrew puts time, effort, sweat, and maybe blood into his bracket every year – ensuring that each pick is an intelligent one. Reflecting on this year’s March Madness, Andrew said that “after so many top-ranked teams were upset by unranked opponents this season, I knew that the tournament would be even more unpredictable than usual.” Unusual it’s been, with surges from Florida Gulf Coast in only their second year of Division I play. The team became the first 15th seed to play in the Sweet Sixteen.
So who did Andrew pick for his number one?
“I picked Louisville to win it all and right now they’re looking pretty good. They beat Duke in the Elite Eight and they looked very strong in that game.”
As the Tournament breaks down into its last whims, fans everywhere are going crazy. Students from the Final Four – Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan, and Syracuse – are pouring with pride. These four teams have undoubtedly impressed the masses this year, winning big and keeping their heads high.
To tell you the truth, I have to go with Louisville as well. The team looks strong, sure, but I’m also hoping for a win for my home town’s hero, Mike Marra. The Louisville player attended my school – Smithfield High School – for three years before moving onto prep-school and landing a position on the Louisville basketball team. Unfortunately Mike couldn’t play this year due to an ACL tear, but the pride is there and his legend moves on.
Whichever team wins, I’m sure that in the end, there’ll be some phenomenal last games. The insanity of it all is unfortunately almost over, so don’t sweat it, non-basketball fans. The end of this tournament means that summer is right around the corner!
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