I was talking to my friend JP after we got back from break, and in the process of our conversation he revealed that he thought yesterday was the best day of the year — even better than Christmas or the day we beat USC (soon to be a yearly occurrence), and he’s right, except for the USC thing. Why, you may ask? It’s certainly not because of the post-St. Paddy’s Day hangover you’re undoubtedly nursing as you read this. St. Patrick’s Day just happens to conveniently fall this year as a 24-hour midweek pregame for today, when the world’s greatest sports spectacle tips off at 12:20 p.m.
Yep, you got it. I’m talking about the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. March Madness simply has everything that a sports fan could want. First, it’s a full three weeks of almost constant action. Today alone there are 16 games — and then 16 tomorrow. You can turn on CBS at noon to catch the important bits of the pregame show and watch the same channel and be constantly entertained for 12 straight hours, and then do the same thing tomorrow. For three weeks, there will be one constantly developing storyline after another. They’ll all be interesting, too.
Second, no matter who you are, you’ve got some sort of rooting interest in the tournament. In addition to rooting for Luke Harangody & Co., there’s probably at least one of the other 63 teams that is your state university, your mom’s alma mater, or one that’s got a cool name (Wofford, I’m looking at you). Plus, you can root for the Cinderella team or Kentucky, if only to see Ashley Judd. The point is, you always care.
Third, the bracket is the perfect size — there’s an element of mystery as to who will make the field, there are enough games for some classic upsets, and yet one of the best teams almost always comes out on top. Plus, the time-honored tradition of filling out brackets involves even the casual fan in a friendly competition that’s inevitably won by someone who has no clue what they’re doing. And if you want bragging rights over smug Observer sportswriters like me, head on over to Facebook and enter your bracket against ours.
Look, I know some people think the Super Bowl, the World Cup or the Olympics are more exciting. But let’s be honest. The Super Bowl lasts three hours, not three weeks. The World Cup and Olympics are exciting, but you have to wait four years every time. And if you think people care more about their countries more than their college basketball teams, I point to the Cameron Crazies and rest my case.
So go turn on your TV at 12:20 p.m. Have a copy of your bracket in your right hand, and your beverage of choice in your left. Root for the upset, root for the favorite, root for the Irish or root for (ugh) Duke. But most of all, enjoy the next three weeks — because there’s simply nothing else like them.