March Madness – the brackets, the buzzer beaters, the rapid fire pace of games, a buffet of entertainment for the sports fan; especially, a basketball fan. Who doesn’t fill out a bracket? Even the casual fan enters some kind of March Madness bracket contest. “Bracketology” has been a thing for a long time now. People take off work to watch the opening round of games, offering up a prayer to witness the “Holy Grail” of March Madness: a 16th seed’s game-winning, buzzer beater.
Unfortunately for me, I am sort of immune to March Madness.
How is this possible? I really like basketball.
First, and this is worth exploring in a separate post so I won’t get into all of the gory details now, but I am not a fan of deciding a champion with a one-and-done tournament format. The larger the pool of teams, the worse it gets (for me) as this brings on even more randomness. These type of tournaments crown the hottest team, not necessarily the best team. All too often the higher seeded team that won their regular season conference title by winning 25+ games suffers a bad shooting night, heck a bad five minutes, and it’s over. Thank you for playing. By the way, the team that performs the upset fans crave during March Madness – ya know, the team that suddenly can’t miss from three-point range, yeah, that one, comes back down to earth and loses by 20 the next game. Great, an upset win deprives the tournament of the better team, and I am supposed to like this scenario?
Next, while criticizing the NCAA officials has become the norm, just check out the referee parody twitter accounts, the fact remains that no one needs much time to build the logic branch that points to lots of bad officiating in this tournament. The officials can’t wait to call that bogus charge foul, depriving the scorer who was already in the air, twisting and turning his way to two points and a possible “and one” opportunity, because the defender was toast – make no mistake about it, yet, here comes the whistle, the striped shirt shimmering with “brilliance” as the referee calls the charge. Never stop being the hero, Referee. We love to watch you call 50+ fouls in a 40 minute game to “take control”. We especially like it when your calls are so inconsistent that the few star players left in the college game have no way to adjust to your foul calling and spend most of their time on the bench.
Finally, college basketball is hard to watch due to the lack of scoring. Anyone enjoy that brick laying exhibition put on by West Virginia against Gonzaga? (West Virgina shot 26.7% from the field.) How about the 39 points Virginia scored against Florida? Now, college basketball’s purist fans will argue that the defense caused this – “College basketball players play the ‘right way’”. Uhm, no, not really. It’s the star players leaving after one year, which not only deprives a team of their base talent, but it also destroys any type of cohesiveness that forms when players play several years together. I don’t blame NBA caliber players leaving after one year, but the college game that featured Patrick Ewing playing all four years is not only past, but people may not believe that this era ever existed. The college game’s best offensive play these days is the old “Throw it up against the backboard and hope for the offensive rebound.” Hey, don’t laugh, this type of play allowed North Carolina to advance past Arkansas.
The thing is… though…I learned to embrace the madness this year.
I now enjoy the inconsistent referee calls. (Tweeting at the referee parody account helps.) I now can’t wait for that inevitable referee “take over” game. The 50+ fouls called give me a chance to do other things, like study for certification exams during all the stoppage of play.
I celebrate game-clinching three-point shots like crazy now, because it means games like the tortoise-paced West Virginia vs Gonzaga game will not go into overtime. Yes, take the W when possible.
Teams like Kansas, who can actually score the basketball, become a thrill to watch. Yep, they are my new favorite team. Also, the college basketball experts pegged UCLA as the best offensive team in the tournament – did they watch Kansas?
Players like Sindarius Thornwell get a chance to carry their team past expectations, even if doing so destroyed my bracket. Just kidding, nothing but best wishes to South Carolina.
However, the best thing about embracing the madness is the chance to see two players hit floating-three’s late in the game as seen in the Florida-Wisconsin game. The first one sent the game into overtime, and the next one won the game in true buzzer-beater fashion.
I’ll take that W – thank you.
Categories: College basketball