NCAA Tournament a good time for everyone

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is upon us.

It is the time when everybody turns into a college basketball expert, when everybody knows the inside scoop on every team, when everybody gets sick on Thursday and Friday afternoons, when everybody is positive that their bracket is the winner.

Then the games start and everybody shakes their heads and says to themselves, “How did that team lose? A number two seed lost already? How many double-digit teams are in the Sweet 16? I’m dead.”

The tournament is the best event in all of sports. It’s better than the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Championship and the World Cup of Soccer. Oh wait, the World Cup of Soccer is irrelevant in the United States. I’ve spent too much time in Europe, I guess. It provides 10 days of thrilling drama, incredible underdog stories, miracle buzzer beaters and pure emotion – joy and sorrow simultaneously – and of course, the brackets.

Sixty-four basketball games are played during the three-week tournament. Many of the games are back-and-forth contests where the winner of the game is unknown until the final buzzer sounds. The quality of games is improving with the growing amount of parity in the college game. With more players leaving school early, or not going at all, the gap between the top and bottom teams is narrowing. There are not many easy games left in the tournament, which makes for exciting basketball and lots of upsets.

Upsets, when a lower-seeded team beats a higher-seeded team, are the reason people love and hate the tournament. They drive everybody who fills out a bracket completely insane. People love upsets because they like to root for the underdog. People are also so proud when they correctly predict an upset. People are equally as upset when the team they picked to go all the way gets upset. Upsets are the reason that people want to watch every game of the tournament because nobody knows who the next underdog who takes down one of the tournament favorites will be.

Every year the tournament has its fair share of buzzer beaters. Without fail, a team will have a victory ripped away from it with a last-second heave toward the basket. The last-second prayer is one of the most exciting plays in all of sports. Forty minutes of hard work can come down to a matter of seconds, or tenths of seconds. As long as a team is within three points and has possession of the ball the game is never over. That is a lesson relearned every year by people who turn off the game with only seconds left.

The pure emotion of the game makes it the best. The participants of the games are college students like us. They do not get paid to play the game – well, they’re not supposed to. Many of the players will never play professional basketball. They play the game because they love it. You can see the emotion on their faces. The tears after every game tell it all.

The tournament brackets provide almost as much enjoyment as the games themselves. Offices all over the country turn into locker rooms. Everybody is busy filling out their bracket for the local office pool, that has no money involved (wink wink). Studies have been conducted to estimate the amount of productivity lost during the tournament. The best thing about the bracket is that it takes zero knowledge, none whatsoever, to be able to fill it out and win. A person can watch every college basketball game during the season and look foolish when it comes to the brackets, while a person who doesn’t know the difference between the two USCs can win the pool.

The tournament provides three weeks’ worth of entertainment unlike anything else in American sports. Sadly, this columnist is not in America and has to settle for reading about it on the Internet.

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