During March Madness, we’ve come to learn to expect the unexpected. You never know how a player or team is going to respond. Could Marcus Smart throw another temper tantrum? Could the third guy on the bench for the last team on the bubble go on a hot streak and drain 16 3-pointers in one game? Probably not, but the beauty of the tournament is you just never know.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsTim Heitman
One of the saddest parts about the NCAA tournament is that it’s the last time we’ll get to see some of the best college players in the country playing for the name on the front of their jersey instead of the name on the back. Or in layman’s terms, before they get corrupted by the NBA. Some of the big names expected to take their final bow during this year’s tournament include Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State and Jabari Parker from Duke.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY SportsDenny Medley
This one may seem a little obvious, but filling out brackets is a daunting task happily done by almost everyone. Brackets can go one of two ways. First, you can either get almost everything right, and your office pool comes down to the final game between you and your co-worker, then he, of course, wins it. Or, you can completely overthink it, lose nearly every game and watch as the person that knows absolutely nothing about college basketball brags for a year that they won the pool. Either way, we keep filling them out year after year thinking we’ve finally nailed it.
Athletes dream of that moment. When everything is on the line, the clock is winding down and the ball is in your hands. Fans dream of witnessing that moment too. Buzzer-beaters are fun during the regular season, but in this win-or-go-home environment, you can’t top the feeling of excitement that the winning team feels, nor can you console the losing team. After all, buzzer-beaters are one of the biggest contributors to the "Mad" in March Madness.
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Admit it. You get a little joy when the first No. 1 seed goes down. Even better if it happens before the Sweet 16. Last year, Gonzaga was the first of the four top teams to go after falling to Wichita State (seriously, what’s up with them this season?) in the round of 32. Even though it usually busts everybody’s bracket, it's always nice to see the big dogs take a tumble. Unless, of course, it's your team that falls. Then it stings like nothing else.
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When You Wish Upon A Star
Your daughter isn’t the only one that is a fan of Cinderella. Yours and hers are just packaged a little different. Remember Florida Gulf Coast? Or how about La Salle? Both of those teams advanced to the Sweet 16 last season as No. 15 and No. 13 seeds respectively. Florida Gulf Coast even had a new nickname bequeathed upon them, "Dunk City." Unfortunately, it's one year later and hardly anybody is talking about them.
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The players aren’t the only ones dealing with the Madness of March. All eyes are on the coaches as well. There’s no better stage for a coach than leading a team through the NCAA Tournament. Let’s be honest. A few good tournaments (though no titles) helped Brad Stevens make the jump from Butler to the Celtics. Will this be the season Shaka Smart finally leaves VCU for something bigger? Do we really think USC would have hired head coach Andy Enfield had he not led Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16 last season?
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On the Clock
The first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament are some of the most exciting in sports. But outside of the actual games themselves, they are a favorite because they serve as a nice distraction during the work day Thursday and Friday. Time off to watch a basketball game? Yes, please! And an extra shout out goes to the Winter Olympics for being a distraction in February.
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Close, But No Cigar
Let's face it, at this point, our only other option for watching college basketball would be to watch the NIT tournament. It’s a nice tournament and all, and it gives fans more chances to cheer for their team, but in reality, it’s not nearly as fun. Quick! Who won the NIT tournament last year? That’s what we thought.
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Boys of Fall
College basketball is fun. There is no denying it, but it doesn’t even compare to college football. The end of the NCAA tournament means our focus can shift to football. (Sorry, college baseball!) Spring games are right around the corner. The NFL Draft will be taking place in May. Summer workouts follow and before you know it, it’s kickoff time for another wonderful football season. And the only way we can get to that point is if March Madness declares a 2014 champion.