The Madness of March

Josh Wilson Avatar

Over the last couple of weekends, basketball has ruled the airwaves. It happens every March. 68 teams battle it out to be crowned the National Champions of Men’s Division 1 basketball. The regular season begins in the late fall. 358 teams from across the country compete in NCAA Division 1. They compete in 32 conferences. The winners of those conferences get an automatic bid into the tournament. The selection committee picks the 36 best remaining teams to fill out the field of 68 for March Madness.
The tournament was started in 1939 with the first National Champion being Oregon. The field was considerably smaller then. It was only 8 teams when it first started. It was doubled to 16 teams in 1951, 32 in 1975, and 64 in 1985. It has remained relatively unchanged since then. It grew to 65 teams in 2001, with a play in game between the two worst seeded teams in the tournament, who were playing each other for the right to play the top seeded team. In 2011, it expanded once again to 68 teams. As a result, there are now a total of 4 play in games.
One of the biggest things that we all love about March Madness is the upsets. The Cinderella teams that captivate our hearts and minds. Some small school from somewhere we’ve never heard of who somehow knocks off Duke or Kentucky. Even more amazing is when they knock off more than one giant and go on a little bit of a run.
How many people knew that St. Pete’s existed prior to last season when they knocked off Kentucky, Murray State, and Purdue. Before they finallylost to North Carolina. As a #15 seed they made it all the way to the Elite 8. I remember when Florida Gulf Coast University made the tournament in 2013 and made an amazing run to the Sweet 16. Everyone loves the upsets. Seeing the little guy knock off the big guy.
I think that we all see the upsets as something special that can unite us all. It can be relatable to the American Dream. If you work hard and believe in yourself, you can do anything. It might be somewhat trivial in a basketball game, but in other bigger areas in our lives it is not trivial. Seeing these young men in college basketball pull off the unbelievable is relatable to what we all hope will happen in real life. That we might get that promotion or job that seems unattainable. Or that house or car. We want to believe and see that anything can happen.
Or maybe it’s as simple as we just want to see the pure raw emotion from these young men as they are doing the unthinkable. We enjoy watching the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. It is almost magical watching as they do what few predicted could happen. Watching as these young men who went to some small school in the middle of nowhere, are competing on the biggest stage in the country.
As you watch this year, sit down and enjoy the ride. Cheer for the magic and enjoy watching with your family and friends, and let this tournament unite us together as we all enjoy the most pure part of this sport that we love.

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