If you’re like me and you have a passion for following sports, in-particular college basketball, then you love the month of March. Every year, sports fans around the country wait for this magical month to roll around so we can all bask in its glory. For those that have no idea what I am referring to, I am referencing the yearly celebration known as March Madness.
Every March, Division I colleges and universities throw all their support on to their men’s basketball teams in hopes of making the field of 68 for the highly sought after NCAA Tournament. The 68 slots are for the 32 winners of their respective conference tournaments and then 36 slots for “at-large” teams that the selection committee sees fit to put into the field. If you’re lucky enough to have your favorite school make the tournament field, then congrats to you, but if your team just didn’t have it in them this year to make it, then congrats to you too. Not making the field of 68 saves you the constant stresses and possible heartbreak for when the tournament begins and the true madness of the month of March begins.
For me, my favorite school—the Vanderbilt Commodores—made the field of 68 as a 9 seed, which made me pretty happy and excited for the first round game against Northwestern to take place. While my team did make an early exit this year (lost 69-68) it has saved me from the inevitable heartbreak later on down the road in the tournament. For example, one of the favorites to win it all, Kentucky lost on a last second shot to North Carolina in the Elite 8, and Wisconsin lost to Florida in the Sweet 16 by a last second shot as well. While I know losing, no matter how or when, isn’t a good thing, it is a little easier to lose early on than it is to lose late in the tournament and have your hopes and dreams crushed by a last-second jump shot.
What makes March such madness is the emotional rollercoaster it puts people through. This year, over 15 million Americans filled out their annual bracket predictions on ESPN.com alone, where we can compete against ourselves, the odds, fans of our favorite schools, and our friends/family all at the same time. The best part of the tournament is watching upsets unfold. Nothing warms my heart more than watching a smaller school come out on top in a matchup against a big time powerhouse. Unfortunately, there were no real big upsets this year. As a matter of fact, there weren’t even any last second shots until the Sweet 16. And although the drama of the tournament was lacking this year, the tournament itself still brings in 90% of the NCAA’s total revenue for the year (mostly because of the over $10 billion television deal they have with CBS and Turner Sports).
For those of us who weren’t so fortunate to have our team make a deep run in the tournament this year just remember: there is always next March!