March madness insane

By Lawrence Bailey

If I could, I’d find a ripe vein and mainline a hearty dose of March Madness every day. Imagine the chaotic onset, building towards the gut-wrenching, blissful climax before slouching back in your chair and letting the whole experience wash over you like a wave of sweet salvation.

Whether it’s Jordan at the buzzer with his tongue a waggin’, or Webber sealing the deal for the opposition with a brain dead time out, nothing–except maybe the World Cup of Soccer–can top the brilliance that is the NCAA Tournament.

From the dynasties of Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina, to the beloved underdogs from Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga, the perfect melding of drama and tradition allows this tourney to dominate North America like no other.

The agony of defeat as a top-seed falls, contrasted with the absolute euphoria of a triumphant 12th-seed creates a perfect imbalance that is all so exciting. However, the winners and losers are not the magic that make this time of year so special;
the magic lies in the countless intangibles.

While professional athletes get paid to play, the bulk of those in the college ranks are in it for the glory and the love of the game. While they know the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow may be bountiful, their hopes and dreams rest in cutting down the mesh when all is said and done. Leading the nation in scoring or being drafted first overall is quite hollow without that championship under your belt. Just ask Tim Duncan or Bo Kimble.

The support for the game on campus is another of the wonderful qualities of the NCAA game. While I am a staunch supporter of CIAU athletics, there is no way in hell you could ever sell out the Saddledome with bare-chested, face-painted, crazed fans for hockey nationals let alone basketball.

Granted, the level of play in the tournament is far superior due the weak pool of talent Canadian schools draw from, with the best Canuks becoming Southern Sweethearts (see Steve Nash in Santa Clara).

All in all, the beauty of the tournament lies in the frenzy that
surrounds it. The fact that 33 teams are eliminated in the first five days while television coverage occupies over half a dozen channels with previews, predictions, analysis and highlights, creates such beautiful anarchy. While it often ends up in victory for one of the top 10 teams coming in, this doesn’t have to be the case. There’s always the chance that Gozanga may get over the hump, that Coach Tark can take Fresno State on a Cinderella run or that Monmouth could roll over Duke en route to college basketball glory. But it doesn’t really matter because no matter who’s playing you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the screen.

Unless, of course, it’s Wisconsin.

Lawrence Bailey can be contacted at

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