ARTICLE OF THE DAY

March Madness
by Kevin Monroe
3/6/06

It’s that time of year again, when every basketball game played could be the most important game of the year for each team involved.  March Madness got its name because of the magnitude of the games played in the month of March.  Conference seasons have come to an end and teams are jockeying for seeds in their conference tournaments.  Winning your conference tournament guarantees you a spot in the field of 65 for the NCAA tournament.  It doesn’t matter if you were 2-28 in the regular season and your team plays in the Big Sky conference.  All it takes is a four game winning streak in the conference tournament and you are granted a bid to the dance.

 

That bid, in that scenario, would probably guarantee your team a number 16 seed that would be asked to play a number 1 seed.  Or even worse, play in the 65 vs. 64 play-in game, win that game, and then have to play a number 1 seed.  Oh by the way, a 16 seed has never beaten a number 1 seed in the history of the tournament.  There are several people that have a problem with the automatic bids given to conference tourney winners.  I don’t have a problem with it, I believe those automatic bids are what make March madness what it is. 

 

The underdog is what makes the tournament great.  Sure the number 8 team in the ACC could probably beat the 16 and 15 seeds given to the winners of the lower level and mid-major conferences, but does that mean those teams don’t deserve the opportunity to make it to the NCAA tournament?  The best thing about the big dance is watching your favorite team play their best basketball of the year and win 6 straight games and go home NCAA champions.  That scenario usually only happens to a few teams from the top conferences. What about the other 300 or so division I schools, their dreams lie first in making the NCAA tournament and then seeing how far they can go. 

 

I can remember when Wally Szczerbiak was a senior at Miami of Ohio when he took them to the sweet 16.  CBS did a special on Wally and he was getting standing ovations in class during the tournament.  The students and fans of Miami knew that they weren’t contenders for the title, but they were enjoying the ride.  That’s what the tournament is all about and that is what is special about automatic bids.  Without those bids, teams like Miami (OH) and Southern IL would never make the tournament.  So let the games began, while the brand name teams such as UCONN and Duke fight for their chance to win it all, others like Bradley and Winthrop will be fighting to put their team on the map and become the next mid-major to become a household name, the next Gonzaga if you will.

 

Let the games begin!

Kevin Monroe
kevin@downeastsports.com