It's finally here! It's tournament time! What is the vast majority of America looking forward to right now? The games? Seeing who the best team is? NO! Filling out their bracket(s)! From Barack Obama, to Dick Vitale, to the 50 year old woman who is a receptionist at your job who hasn't watched a basketball game since Bill Walton was at UCLA. Office brackets, online brackets (ESPN, Rivals, Foxsports, etc.), Facebook bracket invites, Twitter bracket invites, etc. Which will you do!?!?!? Get your money into your pools people!!!!!
Selection Sunday is when it allllllllll begins, as the day starts with teams finishing their final touches on their resumes and ends with nonstop analysis. "Bracketology", which makes it sound as if there is a science to picking your teams, is performed on ESPN by various "experts" on NCAA BB that get paid very well to be knowledgeable on the angles of the tournament for hours upon hours, all night long. Their inside information and scientific analysis then leads these experts to select 4 #1 seeds in the final four, with the #1 overall seed taking the crown (WOW, that's pure genius Jay Bilas!). Dick Vitale erupts and picks his sleeper, pay attention to this: "I'm gonna pick FSU TO GO ON A RUN BABYYYYYY!". Wow DickyV thanks, I didn't ever expect a 3 seed to make a run at all! You are a genius!
A lot of the discuss is "Who Got Snubbed", which is arguably the funniest part of Sunday. 68 teams are selected, yet somehow there are 10 schools/parts of the country IRATE that their team didn't get in (NCAA FB take note). You are then drowned with statistical analysis like RPIs (a calculation that is outdated and ineffective) and common knowledge "tips" (pick a 12/5 game people!), further escalating the fuckery. The reality of it is, it is not a science, the same receptionist mentioned above can do better than Jay Bilas at picking a bracket correctly. Are you a wiz for picking Kentucky to win the naty? Absolutely not. The big name traditional powerhouses tend to dominate, the last 4 NCAA champs are UConn, DUKE, UNC, Kansas (#YAWN). In the past 25 years, only 2 teams have won a naty that weren't considered traditional powerhouse programs (Arkansas, UNLV). I believe the receptionist can read, and see a "1" next to the 1 seeds like UNC, and pick accordingly.
Pure hysteria is erupting right now for all of the wrong reasons. March madness is truly one of the amazing times in sports, and should be appreciated for what it is. It is a time when 68 of the top teams actually compete single elimination tournament style, this adds drama, and all to see who is truly the champion. You don't have to be the best team for a series (NCAA baseball), and a great number of teams are selected in true playoff fashion, which NCAA Football can only wish for. The system is fair in selecting so many teams, even recently expanding, trying to give as many teams a fair shot at being the best. Automatic bids from smaller conferences also ensure this.You have a selection committee that spends ALL YEAR on deciding who gets in, their seeds and what regions people play in to make it fair based on your resume.
As the 1st week of March Madness starts out, your optimism and excitement for the greatest time of the year is SKY HIGH, but fizzles day by day! Why? Because day by day your bracket slow goes to shit! You THOUGHT this would be the year didn't you? The year you picked all the games right and didn't fall flat on your face after the 1st weekend for all your friends/co workers to see? WRONG! The lasting memories people have of March Madness end up being a) what happened to your bracket and who you picked (how much money you lost) , b) the under dog/Cinderella stories that made a run. Part of B being so memorable is because those Cinderella stories probably ruined your bracket, and because it's great TV. B is partly only a story to you probably because those Cinderella teams win while your interest is still in the tourney (early on before your bracket becomes rubbish). As you can see, many of us end up making the March madness experience about us personally. To some, UConn is just a school in print, they have never seen them play and they won't watch a game, but the "UConn" on their bracket shapes their whole experience. Quick trivia: Who won the National Championship in 2010? 2009? 2008? Hell, 2011????? I'm willing to be 1 of out every 4 people reading this can answer who won the title even last year! Why? You stopped tuning in when the Sweet 16 hit and your bracket hit a dead end, you watched Basketball Wives Monday night instead of the naty, that's why! You don't remember Kemba Walker putting UConn on his shoulder-blades, but you remember crumbling up your bracket and throwing it in the waste-bin for sure!
Teams like Duke/UNC/Kentucky don't have to win a National Championship to have a "successful" season. Getting to the Elite 8 is a successful season, the Final 4 is a GREAT season. They already got the exposure for recruiting getting that far, and already sold enough regional tickets at that point to make everyone happy. Bowl money is clearly not involved here like in NCAA FB, so I feel the desire to be the best at the end of the day is there, but not as urgent. I truly believe this, so yeah I do lost a bit of interest as time goes on as well. The majority of big teams probably just don't wanna be "that team" that loses to a huge underdog, and I sometimes feel that cruise after that a bit. However, I love this time of year for the right reasons, and will TRY not to get so wrapped up in my bracket this year like a lot of us do that I don't ruin the experience and genius of March Madness.