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Hefferon: First-round games deserve holiday (March 20)

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dearest professors of Thursday and Friday classes,

We’re not going.

Okay, well, we might have to. You might still take attendance, or make homework due, or something similarly buzzkilling. But really, you should have just cancelled tomorrow’s class already.

Why, you ask?

Well, it’s the opening holeshot of March Madness, a frenzy of 32 games in 36 hours that’s the most perfect two days of sports viewing around. From roughly noon to midnight, the basketball does not stop. Neither do the upsets, the craziness, the quirky small-school centers or the ridiculous mascots. (What would win in a fight, a Billiken or a Lobo?).

These aren’t the powerhouse matchups, the slugfests between teams full of lottery picks that decide who will cut down the nets and win championships. Those won’t start for a week or two.

Instead, Thursday and Friday are about the wild scrambles by teams that could never dream of making Final Fours, let alone Sweet 16s. There will be buzzer-beaters, blown calls, and absolutely indefensible decisions made by players and coaches – and that’s the fun of it. It’ll also wreck your bracket, but that’s okay too. You weren’t going to win, anyway.

Thursday and Friday is what college basketball is all about. The first round tests the toughness of every team, as schools from unknown conferences get their one shot at proving themselves to the world, and top seeds have to have the focus and drive to sidestep these underdogs’ best punch.

(Important note: After the addition of the “First Four” play-in games a few years ago, the NCAA has since referred to Thursday and Friday’s first-round games as the “second round.” Almost everyone else agrees this is stupid. It is.)

And the best part about Thursday and Friday is that it’s been perfected over the past decade. Across four channels, every game is now shown on national TV in its entirety, but the times are staggered just enough that a fan with one TV can catch the dramatic finish to every game. (Though it’s better to have two or three screens if possible. Safety first.)

With so much joyful madness in one place, it only seems appropriate that a national holiday be declared for this four-day weekend, ensuring everyone is able to watch that next great 13-seed’s shining moment.

Professors, that’s where you come in. We trust you’ll do the right thing.

See you Monday.

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.