It’s Hard Not to be Romantic about March Madness

With March Madness just a few days away, people will be filling out their brackets, spending hours upon hours of research on teams and watching bracketology on ESPN.  Me, on the other hand, will be pondering about how much I love not just March Madness, but College Basketball as a whole.

When I think about March Madness, one of the first things that pop into my mind is the late John Wooden, who led his UCLA Bruins to 10 of their 11 national championships.  I think about the tradition of the tournament.  The great moments, which is of course anytime that Duke loses. 

It’s hard not to love those great Cinderella teams who take the country by storm upsetting the great teams, such as George Mason or VCU. 

For a few weeks in the early spring, the “Cinderella” term gets mentioned more often than all the other weeks of the year combined.

Aside from where your personal allegiances may lie with respect to rooting for your home team, everyone loves a nice underdog story. As long as the “Cinderella” story doesn’t interfere with your school and doesn’t burn your entire bracket, then you likely cheer on the small guy. 

Another thing that pops into mind is Las Vegas, the betting capital of the world.Of the nearly $3 billion bet by Americans on March Madness, it’s estimated that only around $100 million of that will be done through legal sports books.  The majority of that legal action is taking place in Vegas.

I think of Magic vs Bird in the 1979 national championship, when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans beat the previously unbeaten Indiana State Sycomores, led by Larry Bird.  A game that stirred one of the greatest player rivalries in sports history. 

I think of the former N.C. State head coach Jimmy Valvano.  Jimmy V once said that you should cry, laugh and think every single day in a speech at the ESPY’s not long before losing his battle with cancer. On one particular evening in early April in 1983, the man now known simply as Jimmy V did all three after his Wolfpack took down the high-powered Houston Cougars 54-52 for the national championship.

  However, when I think of March Madness I think of Christian Lattner.  As much as I hate Lattner and Duke itself, that one shot defines March Madness. If this doesn’t give you goose bumps, you’re either dead or a Kentucky fan.The greatest shot of Christian Laettner’s career, this one is still the benchmark for buzzer beaters, almost 20 years later.This fantastic pass-and-shoot from Grant Hill to Laettner was also one of the greatest finishes in the history of the tournament and sent Duke to the Final Four.

It’s hard not to be romantic about March Madness.

 

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End of an Era

After 14 years, a super bowl championship, and many records broken, Peyton Manning will be released from the Colts.

What was speculated for months will become official Wednesday as the Colts will release the future hall of fame quarterback.  This move will end his storied 14 year career with the Colts.

The Manning era came on draft day 1998, when the dreadful Colts drafted Manning from the University of Tennessee with the number one overall pick.  All Manning did after that was one of a hall of famer.  A record breaking 2004 season, where he broke the single season touchdown record, and in 2006 he delivered the teams first championship since 1970.

However, after a super bowl loss to the Saints in early 2010, he had the first of his many neck surgeries.  Then, after making an early playoff exit in the 2010 season, Manning underwent another neck surgery to repair a damaged nerve that was causing weakness in his throwing arm.

Last July, Irsay signed Manning to a new five-year, $90 million contract extension that everyone expected would keep Manning in Indy for the rest of his career.

But when the nerve did not heal as quickly as anticipated, Manning had two vertebrae fused together in September, a surgery that forced him to miss the first game of his career.  He did not play the entire season, and the Colts when an NFL worst 2-14.

Now after making it clear that they will pick Andrew Luck with the first overall draft pick, like they did with Manning 14 years ago, Irsay and the Colts made a decision to release Manning.  Thus, ending an era which will be the finest in franchise history.

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