March Madness: It’s Back and It’s Crazier Than Ever
Year in and year out, March Madness has proven to be arguably the most heralded tournament on the collegiate sport level. With so many historic plays, upsets and amazing championship runs, the NCAA Basketball Tornament has absolutely taken off. With the constant innovations in technology and how the media uses them to cover the tournament, the annual anticipation grows each year. Today’s athletes — two-way players and 6’10 hybrid swingmen alike — have raised every bar in the athleticism category, making way for plenty of entertainment and unpredictable outcomes.
During the tournament, there are always some college hoops to catch live on television. Someone’s favorite team is always playing. So TVs get set, plans get canceled, homework gets done quicker — or maybe not done at all. Either way, a fan will not be denied their March Madness. Whether someone follows from the very beginning or randomly picks up in the middle of the Elite Eight, anybody can follow along with the excitement.
While most sports fanatics remain attentive to each matchup in these tournaments, you will always have the sector of folks that aren’t necessarily fond of college hoops, or college sports in general. They might make the claim that college — while just a level under the pros — simply doesn’t provide the same level of entertainment. While this idea may hold some weight in certain aspects, an event like March Madness brings more pressure than a seven-game series in the NBA playoffs. ‘Tis the season to go hard or go home.
One game means one chance to win. A player simply knowing that a key missed shot or a slip-up on the boards can mean a couch vacation until next season adds a shot of adrenaline to each matchup.
I caught up with a few Temple students who share that sentiment.
One in particular stated, “It’s like added pressure. Here, you’re playing in front of everyone at your school and millions of people on TV or phone or computer or whatever. You want to make it to the pros, and you only have, like, four years to win it big in college. There’s no series to give you chances. You have one, and that year might be the closest you ever get. That’s crazy.”
It is crazy, to be quite honest. The talented brows of collegiate basketball players can hold just as much sweat as the professionals.
Just imagine playing for a top D1 school, making it to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight. the Final Four and then finally to the NCAA Championship game. Now imagine losing the championship by a point and then going on to get drafted and becoming an NBA All Star.
Sounds great, right? Well, it is. But imagine having to look back on the big “what could’ve been.” No one wants to have to look back on getting that close and failing. It’s like an itch that never really bothers you too much, but never really goes away. While it might be hard to picture that frame of mind, just think about how competitive you are and how that last 2K match online that you lost via a buzzer beater had you feeling for half a day. I know I am not the only one in that boat.
Speaking of buzzer beaters, last year’s championship game had one of the greatest finishes in NCAA basketball history with Villanova’s Kris Jenkins draining the game winner for the title over North Carolina. It hit home because, once again, Philadelphia had something to be proud of. Now, of course, Villanova University is in Villanova, PA, and they do have a rightful claim there, but it isn’t even a full half-hour from Philly. Fans in Philadelphia lost their minds just as much as I imagine students on Nova’s campus did. I remember sitting in my apartment as that shot replayed thinking, “Who better to be than a Philadelphian right now?”
And speaking of “who”, I have to revert back to our Temple Owls, a March Madness season that may be as disappointing as my jokes.
The men’s and women’s basketball squads respectively have found themselves ushered politely out of the first round of their respective tournaments, with the women falling to #10 Oregon in the women’s NCAA tournament, and the men to some healthy East Carolina three-point shooting in the American Athletic Conference tournament.
But that’s fine because this year’s loss is next year’s improvement. And now that Villanova has been bounced out by Wisconsin in the second round, it shows how things can turn around so quickly during March Madness. Who knows, Temple could be cutting the nets come next year.