March is a transitional month that sees longer days and a renewed sense of optimism that only the warmth of Spring can bring.
For basketball fans, March is the greatest month of the year.
During this magical time, the college basketball season culminates in a climactic finish known as the NCAA Tournament. March Madness, as it has come to be known, is one of the most popular and most anticipated sporting events of the year.
At no point in the year is basketball more relevant in the lives of Americans than in March. Every March, productivity plummets in offices across the country as bracket pools take precedence over the usual mundane, work-related tasks.
The NCAA Tournament captures the attention of the entire nation. What is it about this sporting event that makes it so captivating and intriguing?
Annually, on a sacred Sunday in mid-March, the tournament field is set and the bracket is unveiled on what has become known as Selection Sunday. Selection Sunday is basically Christmas Day for college basketball fans.
Every hoops fan circles Selection Sunday on their calendars as soon as the season tips off in November.
Immediately following the Selection show, brackets become priority one until the first tournament game tips just after noon on the following Thursday. Hours are spent relentlessly researching teams and weighing every match-up.
No sporting event gets fans involved quite like the Big Dance. Hoops fan or not, you’re probably going to fill out a bracket.
The vested interest that most Americans have in this event is unique and unlike anything in sports.
Do or Die
The NCAA Tournament is the largest national single-elimination tournament in the world: 68 teams, 67 total games.
Every game is life or death.
Winners live to fight another day and losers are sent packing, their season suddenly over.
The crushing finality of a loss shrouds every game in urgency, a heaviness that is constantly present as seasons hang in the balance.
“Survive and advance” becomes a common motto in most locker rooms.
In this tournament, dreams are shattered, Cinderellas are born, heroes are immortalized and war-torn champions are crowned.
There’s nothing like it.
The unpredictability of this tournament is what makes March Madness so great. Crazy, unforeseen things always happen.
In March, the team rankings that are so relevant throughout the season become totally meaningless and can be thrown out the window.
Upsets abound in the Big Dance.
Literally every single year, an underdog team makes a deep run in the tournament and captivates the nation. America loves an underdog.
Predicting these upsets is a near impossibility, though. These rags-to-riches tournament darlings, known as “Cinderella” teams, rise to prominence and bust thousands of brackets every year.
It’s pretty ironic that this tournament falls in the same month as St. Patrick’s Day. Perfect brackets are in the same category as leprechauns, they don’t exist.
Every year, various bracket challenges make the rounds through social media and the internet, promising untold riches to any person who fills out a perfect bracket. And every year, there are millions of hopeful brackets filled out.
The odds for a perfect bracket are a staggering 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (9.2 quintillion).
In the words of Lloyd Christmas, so you’re telling me there’s a chance…..
I absolutely love March.
My disdain for winter and my love for college basketball coincide to make this the most wonderful time of the year for me.
The planets align as the first weekend of the tournament tips off and I can actually feel the seasonal depression of winter melt away.
As I write this in early March, I literally feel like a kid in restless anticipation for Christmas morning.
Soon a fresh bracket will be in our hands, bringing with it untold possibilities.
Who will be this year’s Cinderella team? How many thrilling buzzer-beaters will we see? What team will defy the odds and cut down the nets in April?
Without question, the NCAA Tournament is the greatest post-season in all of sports.
I can’t wait for tip-off!