By Ruth Topper
Do things get a little wild and crazy around your house in March? If so, maybe you have a little March Madness going on! You may be wondering (if you aren’t a big sports/basketball fan)… What is March Madness anyway?
Well, it is basically a tournament of the best college basketball teams across the country. Prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament (also known as “March Madness”), each conference has its own tournament or conference champion who advances to the NCAA Tournament. The teams who end up in the tournament are a mixture of conference champions, automatic bids and at large bids. The colleges represented range from big names like Duke, Michigan and Michigan State, Notre Dame, North Carolina and North Carolina State, etc. to lesser known schools like Bucknell, Valparaiso, Gonzaga and Butler. All I know is that excitement hit my household this past Sunday, March 17 when the sixty-eight teams going to the tournament were announced! As soon as these teams are decided upon, basketball fans across the country go crazy! They run to print off a “Bracket.” This “Bracket” lists all the teams that made it to the tournament and who they are playing in the opening game.
Now the fun begins! Basketball fans begin to do “research” on the teams to try & figure out who will win each game and move on in the tournament. The idea is to narrow your “picks” down to the “Sweet 16”, “Elite 8”, “Final 4” and of course choose the two teams that will eventually play in the Championship Game. These fans take this job very seriously. Pools spring up in the workplace and lots of water cooler and dinner time discussion takes place as everyone considers the various teams, players, coaches, etc. The joke in our family is that I can fill out the bracket knowing very little about any of the basketball teams and do as well in selecting teams that will win as they do after researching and agonizing over which ones to pick in every game. The goal is to have the “Bracket” filled out by Thursday, March 21.
On Thursday, March 21 sixty-eight teams will have begun play. After just a few hours of basketball play I start hearing moans and groans as teams lose and are out of the tournament or shouts of joy that a particular team is moving on! The “Bracket” doesn’t stray far from the owner! A highlighter will come out and if a team wins – they get highlighted. (This is very exciting!) If a team loses – they get a big X over them. It’s really bad when a team loses in a very early round when that team was predicted to go to the Elite 8, Final 4 or heaven forbid – into the Championship game! This could mean weeping & wailing – depending on the age of the fan! (Yes, grown men have been known to cry – but not my husband!) This first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is the highlight of a basketball fan’s year! Multiple games are being played at the same time on several channels, exciting highlights of games will be telecast from station to station and these sixty-eight teams will be narrowed down to sixteen teams by the end of play on the first Sunday of the Tournament.
The following Thursday, March 28, these sixteen teams start play again. By Sunday evening the sixteen teams will be narrowed down to just 4 teams (“The Final 4”). On Saturday, April 6 the Final 4 teams face each other and we will be down to the two teams who will play in the Championship Game on Monday, April 8. The winner of this game will hold the Championship Title for the next year!
Why do I share all of this with you? Well…basketball has become a favorite sport in my house. All three of my kids (including my daughter, Rachel, who has a thing for Butler – not sure why) & my husband love watching basketball and shooting hoops (or ballin’) either outside in the driveway or with the mini hoop in our basement. They love to talk about their favorite teams, the players, their “moves,” the “ref” calls and speculate who will come out on top of each game. Frankly it is the only topic of conversation going on right now in my house!
So…..what does March Madness mean to you? Who is your favorite team? Who are you picking to win the Championship Game? My pick is…
The Florida Gators winning over Gonzaga in the Championship. You heard it here first!