March is a good month: spring break, better weather—but I look forward to March for only one thing.
As soon as I hear that NCAA Tournament theme song, I swear my heart beats fast and I start sweating—this sickness is real and every year I fall victim. I let myself come down with the fever and you should, too. Here’s why:
Caring about March Madness is being a part of something bigger than yourself, something bigger than even your school. March is wearing your team’s hat in the airport and receiving high fives from strangers or hearing good-natured “boos” echoing as you walk by. It’s crowding around a tiny phone screen during class to watch the last few seconds of the game. Too often we are too self-involved to remember that many of us are on the same team.
EVERYONE has a chance during the NCAA tournament—that’s why it’s fun. You don’t simply write off a team because they are a 15 seed. Mid-Tennessee, a 15 seed, beat the number 2 seeded Michigan State, who was predicted by many to win the whole tournament. I’m a Big Ten person, I must say, but even I was excited by this extremely unexpected upset. Here’s a team that hardly anyone has ever heard of beating the Big Ten champion. It’s impossible not to be swept up in the excitement (unless you’re Tom Izzo).
These guys aren’t in the NBA. They aren’t being paid millions of dollars for their athletic ability. These guys are just kids. They are our age, and there are thousands of people depending on them to give their all. If that doesn’t show heart I don’t know what does.
You don’t know true heartbreak until your team loses. Though this is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy (unless you’re IU), there’s something special about feeling that kind of sadness with thousands of other people. It might just be about a game, but it sure is cool to know how much a sport can mean to so many different people. And if you’re a Purdue fan like me, you know the true pain of realizing that we’re more likely to go to the moon than the Final Four.
Anything can happen during March Madness. There’s the team that’s supposed to win it all that loses, the team that shouldn’t be in the tournament that makes it past the second round, the team that plays like no one thought they could. This is one of the only times a year where it’s fun to be wrong; the more inaccurate your bracket, the more exciting the games. And no matter what happens during the month of March, we always have the same hope, whether it’s for our team or for a team that’s making a name for itself: there’s always next year.
So, as we near the end of the NCAA Tournament, I encourage you to go mad. Embrace the madness, the upsets, and the excitement. College basketball isn’t just a game.