The Madness of March pt. 2

Michigan Burke walks off the court as Louisville celebrates defeating Michigan to win the NCAA men's Final Four championship basketball game in Atlanta
Photo ©2013 by Michael Gold [CC-by-2.0]
That time of year has come again. As I’m writing this, the UNI (Northern Iowa) and the Texas A&M game is going on. Yes, I am talking about the NCAA Basketball Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. Nothing beats 68 teams all playing with their seasons, and for many, their basketball careers on the line. The heart, intensity, quality, and quantity of the games makes March Madness so enticing.

And this year is no exception. The tournament has been extremely fascinating, yet thoroughly frustrating. For me, this year has had, by far, the greatest amount of chaos that I have ever seen. Making my bracket, I saw two favorites straight away. The Kansas Jayhawks, who are the overall number one seed in the nation and in the tournament, and the Michigan State Spartans, who were my personal favorites to cut down the nets.

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Photo ©2015 by Nati Harnik [CC-by-2.0]
When making brackets like these, where the teams are one-and-done, it’s really difficult to be completely accurate, so what I like to do is base my picks on history, as in the team’s history and the coach’s history in the tournament, as well as the style of play that the team utilizes.

Michigan State was an easy pick for me by a landslide. They have made the Sweet Sixteen for the past 4 years and head coach Tom Izzo deservingly holds the nickname “Mr. March,” and for good reason too. The Spartans are also the team that has, in my opinion, the best player in the nation in Denzel Valentine.

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Photo ©2016 by Rey Del Rio [CC-by-2.0]
Yet in March, the madness really never stops. Second day of the tournament, my fifth period class had just ended. 1:47 pm and 1:47 minutes left in the game. Michigan State (No. 2 seed in their respective region) losing in a potential upset to No. 15 seed Middle Tenessee. When that final buzzer rang, I couldn’t believe it.  There was no way in 100 years that I would have ever picked Middle Tenessee to upset the Spartans, especially when the MSU team was so strong and heavily preferred this year. Bracket busted.

Following this major upset, there was only ONE perfect bracket remaining. And even this sole remaining bracket was busted shortly after. Sheer madness.

While I only really talked about the Michigan State blasphemy, there was much more unbelievable games that happened within the two days of the first round. From No. 12 Yale defeating No. 5 Baylor and No. 12 Little Rock ousting No. 5 Purdue to No. 6 Seton Hall losing to No. 11 Gonzaga and No. 6 Texas falling to No. 11 UNI, this tournament is absolutely insane.

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In fact, the mayhem of March is so spectacular that many have integrated it into their own traditions and customs. For example, my high school in Fountain Valley has made it an annual event to host a mini March Madness tournament of their own in which students can register their pick-up teams to play in the tournament. Another great example would be the “Locura de Marzo,” which my Spanish class uses to incorporate both the spirit of March Madness and the language of Spanish for an enhanced learning experience.

With that said, it’s pretty obvious how big the NCAA Basketball Tournament is. If you’re not the biggest of college basketball fans, the month may get annoying. But, if you’re a fan like I am, I hope your bracket isn’t doing too badly and, let the madness continue…

~ Sam

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