MORAN: Perfect kind of madness is 'March Madness'


Opinions Column: The Morant


moran


So much paper was burned in the third week of March. Any guesses as to why?

No problem, I'll tell you — brackets were busted and went up in flames.

Two words: March Madness. It is riveting, must-watch television, even if you are not a basketball fan. Nothing compares to it. It is the single greatest sporting event in all of sports.

It has been a week since the “First Four In” play-in games and already we have so many memorable moments. There is so much action with 32 games over a two-day span that leaves the fan or casual viewer in awe. It can have fans jumping in excitement or crying in despair. It gets you attached, no matter what.

The game last Friday – No. 6 Texas versus No. 11 Northern Iowa — was the perfect example of a roller coaster of emotion for fans. With 2.9 seconds left, Texas ties the game. Their fans go nuts. Next possession, Northern Iowa forward Paul Jesperson launches a prayer from half court with the buzzer sounding and nails the game winning shot. Those Texas fans that were just at an emotional high go quiet, almost like they cannot believe what they just saw. Those Northern Iowa fans that were silent go nuts. It is a complete 180-degree turn of emotion from both sides, and it happened all in a matter of 3 seconds.

I would like for someone to find a sporting event out there in the world that can do that to a fan. You won't be able to.

Of the lower seeded teams in the first round, 13 of them won their matchups out of 32 games. That is very impressive, and almost unheard of. Couple that with the fact that a No. 9, No. 10, No. 11, No. 12, No. 13, No. 14 and No. 15 seed advanced to the second round for only the second time in the tournaments history.

The tournament has gotten so big over the years that an estimated $9 billion was spent on it in 2014 for gambling alone. So two years later, one would imagine that number has climbed quite a bit.

People feel the urge to fill out their brackets and try to think of the upsets that will happen. They research it. Dedicate hours to it. And it’s all for nothing. Out of the millions brackets worldwide, not one remains perfect. Think about that for a second. Over 20 million brackets out there, and not one was completely right after the first round. Incredible.

It shows how unlikely the results are and how truly incredible the tournament is. It throws the unexpected at you.

A lot of people lost their money and had their brackets busted when No. 2 Michigan State was upset by No. 15 Middle Tennessee State, an upset that not many predicted. A lot of people had Michigan State winning it all. I had them in the Final Four.

But to be honest, I did not care that it busted my bracket. I live for the upsets and the underdogs, especially when a No. 15 seed is able to pull it off. It's awesome to see.

You do not truly appreciate March Madness until you see these little-named schools taking down powerhouses, whether it was Stephen F. Austin defeating West Virginia University or Yale, the college of nerds, beating Baylor.

These kids that were under-recruited and felt disrespected lay it all on the line and take down McDonald’s All-Americans and top recruits out of high schools. It’s something that you can see on these kid’s faces.

They go out there with a vengeance and no regard for their opponents other than getting the win.

Look at forward Thomas Walkup of Stephen F. Austin who scored 33 points leading his team to an upset. The whole game he did not show emotion, until the victory was in hand. He knew he had a job to do, and he was on a mission of leading his team to the victory.

Every single possession matters come March. Every single one.

Don’t believe me?

Look no further than Friday’s game of No. 8 Saint Joseph’s versus No. 9 Cincinnati. St. Joseph’s hits a three to take the lead with seven seconds left. Cincinnati comes down the floor, finds the wide-open man under the basket: He dunks it as time expires. Everything seems fine. Upon further review, he was 0.1 seconds too late, and that was how his college career ended and how the school’s tournament ended. Absolute heartbreak.

As you watch the games, the teams and these kids, you feel a connection, in a way, to them. You scream for joy with them and you cry with them, through thick and thin.

There is only one word to describe March every year, and it is madness.

Ryan Moran is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and economics. His column, "The Morant," runs on alternate Mondays.

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Ryan Moran

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