Some Brief Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament

The first four days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament have always been like a mini-holiday for me; as a huge fan of the sport, it’s something I look forward to for months.  I love the shear overload of games going on simultaneously, the matchups of powerful programs against unknown mid-majors, the chances for upsets, hell, even the camaraderie of a bunch of people hanging out in a sports bar taking a “long lunch” and playing hooky from work(I remember skipping some classes my senior year of high school to watch the early games on a Thursday afternoon).

I have to admit that due to the extremely disappointing season for my team, the UNC Tar Heels, I didn’t think I would be as in to the tournament this year.  I didn’t even fill out a bracket, which felt strange. And before you say it, yes, I know they won the National Championship last year, and I couldn’t be happier about that.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful for such a successful program, but maybe it’s that success that makes years when they don’t make the tournament that much harder.  Anyway, I decided to head to a local sports bar for lunch yesterday just to see if I could feel that spark again.

After about 5 minutes of watching three games simultaneously, I quickly regained that excitement(the ice cold Fat Tires I had didn’t hurt either).  In fact, in those three games I remembered exactly what I love about this tournament:



    1. The “One Fan from the underdog team”: Sixth seed Notre Dame was playing #11 seed Old Dominion.  Sitting by himself at the bar, a gentleman in an ODU t-shirt, focused intently on the TV above his head.  Unfortunately, the bar’s speaker system was switched to another game, so he just sat there in silence, clapping and cheering quietly under his breath every time his team pulled even or ahead of the Irish.  When the Monarchs pulled off the first upset of the day, several of us at the bar applauded, congratulating the guy sitting by himself in his ODU t-shirt.  As he left he told us, “I’ve got to get back to work, but I’m wearing my shirt at the office the rest of the day!”  You gotta love that.
    2. The “Almost Upset”:  With Robert Morris on the verge of knocking off #2 seed Villanova, you could almost feel the excitement running through the bar as everyone considered the implications of such a huge upset.  The general consensus was “it might really screw up my bracket, but I’d still love to see it happen.”
    3. The “I hate that team so I hope they lose”: Ok, this one might sound a little petty, but c’mon, we all do it.  We all have that team or teams we hate and love to see lose.  Well, for me one of those teams is Florida, and they were locked in a fairly awesome battle with #7 seed BYU.  By the time the second OT ended with BYU victorious, I was almost ready to move to Utah and become a Mormon.  Now, if The Golden Lions of Arkansas-Pine Bluff could only pull off a miracle against Dook later today…



Well, after three games (and a couple of beers), my love for the NCAA Tournament was reaffirmed.  So the Heels aren’t in it this year…I can live with that.  And in fact, my alma mater is in the tournament for only the fourth time ever.


Yes, the UVM Catamounts will be trying to become the first 16 seed to ever knock off a 1 seed when they face Syracuse tonight, so history is not on their side…or is it?  In 2005 UVM pulled off a shocking upset of then #4 Syracuse.  I remember that well, as I was the guy sitting there in a UVM shirt, much like my buddy from ODU yesterday.


Well, at least I know what I’m wearing when I’m watching the games tonight.

Written by Bruce