Time to Dance

march-madness--basketballAs I write this, the 65 teams have been selected for the Big Dance and I am waiting for my plane back to Philadelphia which has been delayed 2 hours. No matter—more time to pour over the brackets. When did “Bracketology” become a term in the English language? The NCAA tournament and its corresponding media coverage helped make it so.

Not everyone loves the process. The teams just on the outside of the tournament are whining and licking their wounds, and deciding whether to accept an invitation to the lesser NIT or CBI tourneys (By the way I used to LOVE the NIT when I was a kid—when there were only 16 teams in the NCAA tourney, but now it’s a shell of its former self).

I admire the NCAA for having created a process where dreams and hopes of 65 men’s college basketball teams flourish and where millions of Americans sweat over whether they should take #8 seed Gonzaga over #9 seed Florida State in the West bracket despite the fact that 99% of the pool participants can’t name one player on either squad. I know John Stockton once went to Gonzaga, but that doesn’t count. The brilliance of the tournament is the process and the hope that a lower seed can ultimately win (Pop Trivia question: What team was the lowest seed to have won the Championship: Answer below)

The tournament is a marketing success, one which engages the nation, young and old, and one which creates bonding and animosity in work places. The brilliance is the “funnel”—64 to 32, to “sweet 16”, “Elite 8”, “Final Four”. The interesting thing is that I don’t have nearly as much interest in the final game as the process to get there. When it reaches the Championship game it’s an interesting college game, which is nice, but a bit anti-climatic. I’m usually far out of the pool leadership at that point and so are most participants.

So as I go back to filling out my brackets, I know my daughter wants her beloved Terps to prevail, but I suspect soon their hopes will be dashed, but at least they beat Duke at home.  I do wonder whether #8 Gongaza has the right stuff to have a snowballs chance to win the tournament despite having lost in its own conference tournament, or whether they’ll lose this week in the first round. But I would have said the same in 1985 when 8th seeded Villanova won the Championship, per the above Pop Trivia question.

That’s why the tournament rocks. Hope springs eternal. It’s time to create a NCAA football tourney too.

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  1. Nice article Daddy. You know the “bracketology” special on ESPN just said Kansas is in the toughest bracket and that Ohio State, Georgetown, and… wait for it… MARYLAND have a shot! Greivis will lead my Terps all the way, FEAR THE TURTLE!!!! Hope you have a safe flight, the Jeter puppy will be up waiting for you

  2. Lonny Strum says:

    Terps have a shot (but it’s a small one).

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