If this year’s February sports scene in the USA was all about Linsanity then the month of March is always about “the madness”.
Yes March Madness is all about the National College Basketball tournament whereby 68 teams start in a straight knock out competition that sends every sports fan into a frenzy. The teams are ranked from 68 to 1 in terms of seeding and it’s David v Goliath whereby a point guard from a small unknown college in the Ohio Valley can come up against this year’s no. 1 projected draft pick in the NbA.
It’s a great spectacle with CBS television covering the tournament surfing from game to game based on excitement. Vegas has one of its busiest weekend with punters heading there for a weekend of legal betting and this year coinciding with St Patricks Day over the first round weekend will also provide more hype and partying especially for the Fighting Irish fans of Notre Dame.
It all starts with Selection Sunday whereby a committee pick the 68 lucky teams. This is drama within itself with a number of teams gaining automatic selection by winning their local conference competition. The others are judged on form, results who they have played etc. This can be contentious. There are cameras live in college rooms showing the emotion on teams that have grouped together to watch the selection process.
The next day’s all about bracketology. The brackets go online and everyone including President Barack Obama try to predict who will win it all.
This is a business in itself with high profile competitions and millions of dollar of prizes for those who can predict the winner. The odds of predicting every winning team across the four week competition to an eventual winner is a staggering ¼ of 1% chance of having a correct bracket if everyone in the USA filled out a bracket. Basically impossible !!
The 2012 competition sees the Spartans from Norfolk State University (student roll 6,000) coming into the comp for the first time playing Missouri and the potential to play against the usual powerhouses of Kansas, Duke and Kentucky. This is the drama and small schools can get on a roll and beat their higher rank compatriots. Butler University from Indianapolis made it all the way to the final last year.
This is another of the USDA’s great sporting traditions and is seen of a far way of finding a champion. Imagine the FA Cup competition happening over a month.
Catch some of the madness on ESPN (who provide coverage here) and watch for the traditional one shining moment compilation expertly played minutes after each year’s final showing all aspects of the emotion.