There are very few things that I enjoy watching on TV that can actually keep my attention longer than a 30 minute time slot. I tend to zone out after maybe minute 40 or so if it isn’t a super interesting show or event. But the one thing that normally always keeps my interest is sports. I can watch football, soccer, and basketball for hours on end.
But there’s something a little more special about college basketball than football or soccer. The idea of playing at max performance levels for an entire season of games for the possibility of playing 6 games in March is fairly weird. College football is all about conference championships, with the bowl games being a reward for how well a team plays. Soccer is sort of similar to the idea in basketball, but the rivalry and loyalty (and hooliganism in some cases) trumps the championship. Everything in college hoops points to March Madness. Every week is about the “journey to the tourney.” Serious mock brackets for the tournament start showing up at the end of January. All roads lead to March.
I’m a huge North Carolina Tar Heels basketball fan (the other day, Rob started to point out that I like UNC basketball, Alabama football, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Houston Rockets, yet don’t really say much about Liberty’s sports teams or like any local teams, but was interrupted by Sonksen before he could get much further). Almost every year Coach Roy leads the team to be a preseason contender for the tournament before a game is played. Now, I’m no bandwagoner; both sides of my family come from North Carolina, and both sides are Tar Heels. My dad’s brother even taught at Chapel Hill. So I do have some stake in supporting the team. I love watching the Heels play, and try really hard to catch as many games that I can on ESPN (it’s on my to-do list to actually go to a UNC home game and on my bucket list to go to both a UNC-Duke and a UNC- NC State game).
While I may love watching basketball, I haven’t the slightest clue what the heck is going on honestly. I’m a soccer player. My top score in pop-a-shot is 9. I tore two ligaments in my right ankle in 2013 playing basketball incorrectly. I suck at the sport. The gameplay makes no sense to me. Especially since these late teens/early twentysomethings give their all the entire season just give even more to possibly play 6 extra games.
All games, all plays, all scores lead to March. They all point and guide a team to the end-of-the-season privilege of competing in interconference play to determine the national champion. The #1 team in the Coaches’ Poll throughout the season doesn’t always win; sometimes it’s the Cinderellas who catch late steam, or the average joes who play safe and solid. The Mercer Bears, a no-name team, beat the perpetual top-5-spot-holding Duke. Everything a team does during the season determines their place in the Madness.
The past few years, a sleeper team, an organization that no one expected to go very far, has ended up taking the whole thing. Last year, Connecticut won. No one heard much from the Huskies throughout the year, and certainly not much since their 2011 championship win against Butler. And this year, before the bracket is even set, the playing field is fairly even when it comes to the top 25, for the most part. So, come March, it will probably end up getting dicey.
Before February even starts, who do you have going all the way this year? Comment and let me know!