The Ides of March has come and gone. Summer is coming. Final essays and exams are occupying your mind. Summer jobs, for those of you unfortunate to not currently have one, are stressing you out. But if you’re anything like me, it’s all okay because March Madness is here and that makes everything alright.
Starting with the conference tournaments at the beginning of the month, March Madness is a frenzy of college hoops that always seems to end too soon. This year’s iteration started weak, with fewer upsets, overtimes, or buzzer beaters than usual in the first two days, which saw 32 games played.
But the next two days, with another 16 games played, saw a number one seed and two number two seeds fall — including the powerhouse Duke Blue Devils, who fell to a South Carolina Gamecocks team led in part by Toronto’s Duane Notice — lending credence to the ‘Madness’ moniker.
And let’s not overlook the significance of those early conference tournaments. While the major conferences have less riding on them — Duke may have defeated Notre Dame in the ACC championship, but both teams still qualified for March Madness — for the minor conferences, it is the culmination of a season’s worth of effort.
Any team that wins their conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the ‘Big Dance.’ So a little-known school in rural Alabama that sucked all year still has a chance to extend their season if they can win the conference title.
Occasionally, this can result in ridiculously entertaining games, such as last season, when Cal State Bakersfield upset New Mexico State on a buzzer beating three-pointer to earn the team their first trip to the NCAA tournament.
There is, of course, a flip-side to all this. That would be ‘March Sadness.’ The agony of defeat. Players, fans, coaches: they all cry — all the time. You may have seen the famous ‘piccolo girl’ GIF from a few years ago. It’s virtually impossible to watch an entire tournament without seeing at least some tears.
Even in the conference tournament there are tears. In 2016, Holy Cross finished the regular season with an underwhelming 10–19 record. Undeterred, the squad pulled off four upsets in eight days, securing the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
This included a double overtime victory over top-seeded and heavily favoured Bucknell. While the Crusaders celebrated their hard-earned victory, the other side was left in a state of shock, knowing their season — and in some cases, their careers — ended at the hands of an opponent that had been, well, crappy all season long.
This is a busy time of year for all of us. But if you get a chance to, I’d recommend tuning into whatever games you can. On the weekend of April 1, we’ll have the Final Four games, setting up the championship game on April 3.
You don’t have to be a fan of any team, or even the sport. Just embrace the chaos, the absurdity, the culture, the tears, and the cheers. Embrace the madness.