This post is dedicated to all you guys n gals, especially abroad, that are scratching your heads and wondering what the "March Madness" is that seems to be infecting so many of your, otherwise what passes for, normal friends?
So, I'll attempt to explain, in easy to use words, the even easier to get concepts, and mystique, of our national craze. (ok, I'll also give a link to the Almighty Gawd of Info, Wiki, here). I haven't read it, so you'll hafta tell me how I do.
Simply put, March Madness ( clever marketing name) is our nation's College Basketball Championship Tournament. It is a round robin, single elimination tournament that stretches for almost a fortnight (that's two weeks to us), and yields a true National Champion. The presiding organization of all College Athletics here is the NCAA. (Often referred to as NC2A) There is a Men's, and a Women's Tournament, and the gals tourney can be as exciting as the men's. I am a big fan of the gals that got game! In some sense, they are even more pure athletes. But I digress. (wow, only took me to my 2nd blog).
Schools all over America (ok, the States to you chums and mates abroad) vie to get into the "Big Dance" here, and it starts with a field of 64. Since it's a "win or go home" scenario, we have clever nicknames for each Round. But being Americans, we don't bother with the first two Rounds *chuckle*. Thus, the Third Round is known as the Sweet Sixteen, then the Elite Eight, then the Final Four, then the Semi, and lastly the Final. See how easy that was? You're practically an expert already.
I'm not going into the complexities of the games itself, suffice it to say that if you put the ball thru the hoop more times than your opponent, then you win. It's the *how* of putting "the brick" thru the "rim" that becomes so fascinating. And so grueling. It's the history of the schools, and players, that adds so much to the human interest side of the many great stories going on.
Well over 90% of these kids are NOT going to be Professional Basketball Players. Instead, they are playing, now, for ideas like School Spirit, Team Pride, and Love of Sport. And it shows. This is simply a presentation of some of the best sports, and pure athletes, in the world. Period. You cheer as they win, and cry as they lose, all at the same time.
You revisit old rivalries in College Sports, and see new ones created. You hold your breath as the scrappy, but overwhelmed team from Podunk State becomes the Cinderella Story and advances by actually upsetting Big Whoop University. As if Podunk State had been granted a wish by it's Fairy GodMother. Gonzaga State (real name) is a regular at the "Cinderella Ball". They have been bridesmaids quite a few times, but never the bride.
And there is *always* the "Upset Round"! For no discernible reason, two, or three, or four underdogs are suddenly smitten by the Basketball Gawdz that be, and are elevated past a vastly superior team. This is usually where most of us that keep track of these things and also upset! *chuckle* Speaking of which, when you hear people talking about how their Boards, or Brackets are doing, that simply means they have filled out a form (either online, or printed out as part of a pool to bet) and are discussing the results.
You can play along on any of several sites, I have Brackets on Yahoo, CBSSportsline, and ESPN. And you can get all sorts of advice on who you should pick, and why. This year, however, I'm going to the top... all the way. Aye yup, watched a video of President Obama. Last year he got trashed in the first round, but then did quite well and picked the eventual winner. Not sure what it means, but he and I agree about the Final Four, and thru the National Champion. We just have a minor parting of the ways as to how to get there. My dear, late, mother, however, would base her picks on who had the prettiest team colors, and the cutest mascot. She beat me every time.