Before I get into this post, I am going to provide some insight into the structure of the post season of college basketball, because I imagine most of you do not know it. All 350-some college basketball teams are divided into conferences. Beginning in January, after three months of playing teams from other conferences, you begin conference play where you only play teams from your conference. At the end of each conference season, there are conference tournaments, where (in most cases) all of the teams in a conference begin a playoff tournament of sorts to see who earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which is a 68 team tournament that determines the national champion for that season. In the first two weeks of March, 32 automatic bids will be given out, 31 to each of the conference champions and 1 to the Ivy League regular season champion (the Ivy League does not have a tournament). The other 36 bids to the tournament are given to the teams that did not win their conference but are most deserving of these spots. Once all 68 teams are selected on Selection Sunday (the third Sunday in March), they play in the March Madness tournament that all of you are probably familiar with. Now into the real post:
March is a magical month for college basketball. For people on the outside of the sport, March doesn’t mean much. However, for the true college basketball fans, March is a month of Christmases every single day. This week (the first week of March), many of the 32 Division I basketball conferences begin their conference tournaments. The Patriot League was the first conference to begin tournament play, as their tournament began Monday night. For most of these teams, winning their conference tournament is the only way they can continue playing, even though the regular season is over. Winning a conference tournament means an automatic bid to March Madness. It means one more game for the seniors who won’t be on the team the next year. Winning is a way to delay the inevitable end to the college basketball season. These are the exact reasons why March has played host to some of the most unforgettable moments in all of college basketball’s history.
College basketball is unique. It is the only sport in the country that allows every single team a chance to play in the post season. This means every single team in the country theoretically has a chance to win the national championship at the beginning of March. A bad season could be erased if you make a run in your conference tournament. The games played in March are unpredictable. Things happen in March that are unfathomable to imagine before they actually happen. In 2009, Syracuse played UCONN in a six overtime game in the Big East Conference Tournament. Six overtime. Rarely do you see games reaching double overtime, let alone six! Just look at some of the crazy finishes from yesterday’s games! March evokes emotions in players like nothing else can. For 347 teams, their season will end in a loss (there are four postseason tournaments, that’s a post for a later day however). Four teams however, will enjoy the sweet taste of victory. They will be able to climb the ladder to cut down the nets and to hoist the championship trophy. The dream of being one of those players cutting down the net is what makes March special. This dream creates the most exciting games ever played and is why I love March. The first round of the Ohio Valley Tournament may seem like it has no effect on anything in the grand scheme of things, but nothing beats watching two teams playing with all of their heart to the final buzzer.
Next week, I am going to try and put together a video blog. Hopefully it will work out, as I will have all break to work on it. If you are ever bored and just sitting around over break, there is always college basketball on! This is a great time to start watching the sport, it’ll get you hooked I promise.