Why I Still Love the NCAA Tournament


by Sam Winston

During any other year, having all four number one seeds reach the NCAA final four would have been the end of the world as I know it. It is after all the first time in the history of the tournament that it has ever happened. Nevertheless, America's perennial underdog showcase will never wither, at least not in my mind.

I've been watching and playing basketball since I was old enough to dribble a ball. Before my family moved from Manhattan to New Orleans when I was 7, my father took me to the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden, one of the great precursors to the Big Dance. My dad said we were rooting for Syracuse, but I was secretly pulling for Georgetown. What a raucous place it was during the Big East glory days of Ewing, Coleman, Mullin, Villanova, and others in the mid 1980s.

From that moment on I had decided that college basketball was my favorite. Aside from the passion and the thrill, it is the one time during the year when sports fans and non sports fan alike focus in on the game of basketball. A game that I love for so many reasons.

There is nothing better than filling out a bracket in March and watching it unfold. Football maybe king in America and in Louisiana, but the format of the NCAA tournament is still unbeatable. The tournament even elevated its status this year with a new feature. Every single game could be viewed online.

Watching from Germany, I can't tell you how cool this was. I filled out my bracket, emailed it around to friends and family, and was able to watch from my small apartment in Hamburg no problem. Going to the bar is fun on occasion, but when you've got 64 teams to watch, this was the perfect idea.

I missed Davidson's magical run (pictured) since most of their games were late and I'm six to seven hours ahead, though I did catch their lost last night to Kansas. If that last shot goes down, they're in and everyone's talking Cinderella. Watching how tough Davidson was down the stretch when Kansas tried with all their their might to exert their supposed superior talent only to desperately hold on (did you see Kansas coach Bill Self go to his knees and practically kiss the floor when the shot went wide?) lets us know that four number one seeds doesn't signify anything but the healthy unpredictability of the tournament.

I can't say that I didn't see it coming either. I've got three out of the four teams left in my bracket still (I didn't have Kansas). If Memphis beats UNC in the finals, call me a genius or call me lucky since I haven't seen a single college basketball game this season before the tournament. Not that it matters. My brackets always do fairly well, but I've never turned one in for money. Not once. I love the tournament just the way it is.

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