College Basketball March Madness!
College Basketball March Madness!
All stories have two sides. Basketball games have 2 sides, each playing on a different team. College basketball at the highest levels coalesce into conference tournaments followed by national tournaments. Division I, the highest level of college hoops, attracts international attention through a national invitational tournament sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Every team in D1 is considered for entry into the tournament by a special committee meeting in a hermetically sealed room in Indianapolis, Indiana. Fans wait with breathless anticipation for Selection Sunday, when the pairings are released during a Made-for-TV event that sends paroxysms of sporty excitement through college campuses from Maine to Hawaii.
Generally, several teams are left out of the tournament despite their stellar seasons. Huge numbers of fans insist that the selection process must be politically motivated. Incensed coaches and Athletic Directors make passionate pleas for their programs, but the selection committee offers no quarter to teams "on the bubble." Just a few more wins or a few less embarrassing losses are the difference between a million dollar payday and another off-season of frustration.
Kansas University has again been selected as a #1 seed in this year's tournament. Long-suffering Indiana fans once again saw their beloved Hoosiers fall far short of a tournament bid: the Crimson and Cream finished dead last in their conference. Long Island University (LIU) earned their way into the tournament field by beating Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game. Much has been made of the fact that a #15 seed (LIU) has rarely beaten a #2 seed in a first-round game, but this year the Blackbirds hope to make history by knocking off the powerful North Carolina Tarheels.
Not all college basketball teams make the "Big Dance". Over 340 teams open their seasons in October with high hopes of playing in the NCAA invitational. Perhaps only 10 or 15 teams actually have realistic expectations for winning the entire tournament, but every team that takes the floor dreams of competing on national television at the end of the season. Quite a few coaches know full well that their job depends on making it to "March Madness."
Recent winners of the NCAA Men's Division 1 Invitational Basketball Tournament include Duke University, The University of North Carolina, and Indiana University. Several teams, such as The University of Kentucky, always seem to be capable of winning the title but fall just a little short and are unable to achieve victory. True fans love their teams regardless of tournament successes, but coaches and their staffs feel year-round pressure to go "deep into the tournament." Undoubtedly the UK fans are the worst.
Victory is attained only by winning 6 games in a row. Whatever moral victories might be gained by winning a few games early in the tournament, only one team will "cut down the nets" and enter the history books as the National Champion. Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, has enjoyed tremendous success in recent tournaments including several "Sweet 16" appearances. Youngstown State University (The Fighting Penguins) has not been to the NCAA tournament in many years, probably never. "Zips" is the nickname of the Akron University Men's Basketball team, which will be competing against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first round of this year's tournament..