March totally rocks! Can I just tell you that! Okay you all know what a freak I am about basketball, so this post really shouldn't surprise you.
The reason I love college basketball is because days like today happen.
But for my non-basketball freak friends, let me just lay things out so that everyone can understand. The great thing about basketball is that at the beginning of March ANYONE as a chance to be the National Champion. Even if a team played terribly all year long and lost all of it's games, that team could still potentially win their conference tournament, which would get them into the NCAA field of 65. From there all you have to do is win six games to be a national champion. So theoretically, anyone can win it.
Right now, the field of 65 is being determined by the conference tournaments being held all over the country. Some slots have already been filled. There are 33 conferences and the winner of each is automatically entered into the field of 65. The other 32 teams are the next best 32 teams in the country, so that's where your record for the year really starts to count. Either way, basically anyone has a chance to play themselves into the field.
So when you get to this time of year, crazy stuff starts to happen on the basketball court. That's why they call it "March Madness." Because it truly is madness.
Today for example, we saw a Georgia Tech team who was in last place in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conferece for those who don't speak college sports) knock off a Clemson team that is ranked 18th in the nation. Baylor, who lost 10 of it's last 12 games shocked everyone by beating reigning national champs and 11th ranked Kansas. Staying in the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma (currently ranked number 6 in the nation), who many people think have a great chance to be playing for the National Title in Detroit in a couple of weeks, got run over by an Oklahoma State team they hadn't lost to in years. Yesterday most people would have told you that Kansas and Oklahoma would likely be the two teams playing for the Big 12 title. Now neither of them is even in it anymore.
I LOVE IT!
I love that stuff like this can happen. In reality, Kansas and Oklahoma and Clemson aren't done. They'll all be in the NCAA tournament because they are part of that field of the best 32 teams. But what's great is that teams like Baylor and Oklahoma State, who didn't have a prayer of being in the National Tournament, now look like they could have a chance of making it. Tomorrow, who knows what might happen. If OK State and Baylor and GT win, they live to fight another day. If they lose, they go home, lick their wounds and pray like hell that they've done enough to be considered for one of the coveted 32 "At-Large" bids.
But the greatest thing about today wasn't the upsets. No actually it was an epic (and when I say epic, I mean Grit-your-teeth-hold-your-breath-I-can't-believe-what-I-just-watched-EPIC) battle between two teams that are already going to be in the NCAA tournament regardless. UConn is ranked number 4 in the nation and Syracuse number 20. It was a quarterfinal of the Big East tournament. A loss wouldn't necessarily hurt either of these teams, because they'll both still be playing in the NCAA tournament, but a win might boost their chances of getting a better seed. I can't even describe the game, because I'm almost at a loss for words. Both of these teams wanted it so badly that they just kept fighting. The game went into 6 overtimes. That's right. SIX! It ran 3 hours and 40 minutes long. It didn't finish util nearly two in the morning! 9 different players fouled out during that period. By the 4th and 5th overtime you could tell, those poor kids had nothing left. They were completely out of gas. And yet, they just kept gutting it out. Finally, Syracuse managed to pull out the win.
Now I don't care about Syracuse. And I care even less about UConn. But I was totally riveted by the end of this game. I just couldn't believe what I was watching. It was amazing. These kids had a "Never Say Die" attitude, so that anytime one team would look like they were going to win it, someone else would come up with a miraculous shot or a beautiful block that would change the course of the game.
Tell me what other sport this kind of thing happens in? The college football national champion is decided by a computer system basically. Professional athletes never put this kind of heart and soul and guts out there. They don't care that much. As long as they get their paycheck it doesn't matter.
Only in college basketball does this kind of Mayhem and Madness happen. And that's why I love it. It all comes down to who wants it more. And in March, anything can happen, because everyone wants it.
And for me, that's way better entertainment than any reality TV show can offer.