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.