I love Spring. I simply love it. The sun comes out of hibernation, the snow begins to melt, and we are reminded that the color green does, in fact, exist. Spring even has its own smell, and I love that too. Like no other, the season of spring simply gets me going. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to break out into a performance of U2's "Beautiful Day." What's more, spring happens to be the most exciting and enjoyable period in the world of sports.
To get things going, we have March basketball.
You see, unlike baseball and football, the sport of basketball does not reach its peak at the pro level. Instead, the college game is where you will witness the highest form of the sport. (In fact, high school, junior high, and driveway basketball also all surpass the NBA in excitement, enjoyability*, fundamental soundness, and pretty much every other category other than hissy fits per game. That's right, I said hissy fits.) When played correctly, basketball is a beautiful game that can be quite captivating. Nothing displays this more than the 31-day basketball smorgasbord that is the month of March.
Headlining this basketball showcase is the 65-team NCAA tournament. Here are just a few things that make this tournament so enjoyable:
Study it. Fill it out. Carry it with you the whole month. Interesting thing about the bracket, from the time I fill it out until the time the tournament starts, there is actually a part of me that thinks I picked every game correctly.
Every year there is some team that comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone. Whether it's Gonzaga, Valparaiso, or another school with a funny name, it's always entertaining. With Canisius and Quinnipiac already losing in their respective conference tournaments, it looks like Winthrop is a lock for the honors this year.
The Reliving of Tournaments Past
Loads of highlight reels. You can watch Magic's Spartans vs. Larry's Sycamores, see Jimmy V's team take the title, or for the 1,937th time, you can see Christian Laettner beat Kentucky at the buzzer. Simply amazing - this stuff never gets old.
Every year, Kansas and/or Cincinnati seem like a lock for the Final Four. They'll be at the top of the polls all year, receive a one or two seed, and when the masses fill out their brackets, everyone will say to themselves, "Maybe this is their year." But, since I began following the tournament, Kansas and Cincinnati have taken early exits every time. I've known this for awhile now, but still fight the urge to pick these teams come bracket time. This year looks to be even more challenging than usual, as they might each earn a number one seeding.
This is just a glimpse of what "the tournament" brings to the table. On top of all this, March also features conference tournaments, the NIT, and the underrated postseason action of Divisions II and III, as well as high school and NAIA postseason basketball.
Just talking about all this basketball has gotten me excited. In fact, I need a break. Catch the next installment of this article in a few days. Or weeks.
-Jon is currently recovering from Olympic fever.
*Note from the author: Apparently, enjoyablitiy is not a word. The correct word here would be enjoyableness. However, I don't like how that sounds. In case you're wondering, nutcan is also not a word.
Spring and Sports: Part I