Human Interest


Originally posted in March, 2022, this updated blog shares my feelings about March Madness.
In my sports world, there are several events that highlight every year. They are spread out over the calendar, but I look forward to each with uncontrolled enthusiasm. I never fail to watch every moment of each on TV. These events are The Masters, the Super Bowl, The Indy 500, the Tour de France (TdF), the Rose Bowl, the BCS college football championship, and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, March Madness. 

My favorite of these “majors” is The Masters golf tournament, an event I see as the epitome of class and tradition. It is definitely my favorite sporting event; I never miss it! A very close second, though, is March Madness. The NCAA tournament, as it was formerly called, is, for college basketball fans, the most exciting and captivating event of the year. It exhibits the best college basketball has to offer.

Unlike five of these other events (minus the TdF), March Madness is truly a national event. Sixty-eight Division I universities from all over the U.S. compete in basketball games played in 14 different cities over a three-week period. The tournament is organized into four regions: East, West, South, and Midwest. Teams are chosen to play based on their won-loss record during the regular season and on the difficulty of their schedule. The more wins against good teams, the better are your chances of being selected to participate. The NCAA tournament selection committee, comprised of college athletic directors, administrators, and conference commissioners, select teams, assign them to a region, and rank, or seed, them 1 through 16. Lower seeded, or better teams, play higher seeded, or less successful, teams.

March Madness is mostly in March, but it spills over into April. This year, it starts on March 14 with four “play-in” games followed by first and second round games. The second round winners, called the “Sweet Sixteen,” play the next week in the four regional sites where all but the “Final Four” teams are eliminated. The Final Four play in Houston, first on Saturday, April 1st, and the two winners play the championship game on Monday, April 3rd.

What makes March Madness such a big deal? A lot of things. First, is the incredible breadth of the event. Sixty-eight schools at 14 different cities is an organizational nightmare. Being fair to every school and assigning them an opponent who is matched to their seeding is a difficult task.

Second, in rounds one and two, on Thursday and Friday, March 16 and 17, there are 16 games each day. That’s 32 games in two days! For someone who loves college basketball, that’s like Christmas, your birthday, and the midnight buffet on a cruise all wrapped into one. It’s a basketball bonanza. It takes four cable channels to telecast all of the games. They start at 12:15 pm eastern time and go until 9:57 pm. At any one time, as many as 3 or 4 games, at different stages, may be going on simultaneously. During a commercial for one game, you can switch to the live action of another. Or if you’re lucky enough to have advanced technology, or several TV’s, you can watch several at the same time. It’s incredible. It’s all coordinated by NCAA organizing committees.

Third, March Madness is a national treasure. It’s the best we have in amateur sports. Thousand of amateur athletes ages 18-23 playing at a high level for schools all over the country. During the regular season, teams play over 30 games. Almost all of them are on television just about every day of the week. Your team’s opponent in one of those games may be a team that has no chance of winning so the game is a blowout. But in March Madness, the 68 best teams play one another until only one team is left standing. The lone exceptions are the 4 games in which the 16th-seeded team faces the number 1 seed. Only once has a 16 seed beaten a number one seed. 

Fourth, is the sense of pride we feel watching these games. Alumni like me love to root for our alma mater. March Madness is one means by which we can express our loyalty and take pride in our school’s participation in the competition. It feels good to win, but just being selected to play is reward enough. College athletics has a lot of negatives—“one-and-done” players, recruiting scandals, the transfer portal, volatile coaches, and flagrant fouls—but overall I think March Madness presents college basketball in a favorable light. The NCAA tries to be fair, but everyone has their own perspective on that. However, the best teams, the best players, and the best coaches always work their way to the top, and along the way are involved in some incredibly exciting games. 

So far the NCAA hasn’t done anything to mess up March Madness. It’s still as exciting as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Expanding the tournament to 64, then 68, teams was a stroke of genius that made it more competitive and exciting. Excitement is everywhere, upsets occur every day, overtime games play on, and star players show their talent in victory. Unless you’re a sports teetotaler, you have to enjoy watching March Madness. It’s impossible not to! The best teams, the best coaches, the best referees, the best players in America, and it’s all free. Yes, the Masters is my favorite event and always will be, but March Madness isn’t far behind. It projects a different image, a different sense of pride, and different emotions. The Masters represents exclusivity and tradition, while March Madness represents athleticism and diversity. Both are American treasures that grab the attention of huge numbers of people and cause us to delay that spring yard work, but It’s ok. March Madness is never going away as long as it remains a financial bonanza for NCAA member schools, and a ratings and advertising revenue windfall for the television networks. The National Collegiate Athletic Association does pretty well in March, too. 

“Selection Sunday” is March 12 at 6:00 pm EST. That’s the day the NCAA announces the team seedings, which teams play each other, and at what “neutral site.” It always seems some team’s neutral sites aren’t very far from their home arena! In preparation for the selection show, I always have a blank tournament bracket waiting to be filled in as the games are announced. It’s not as exciting as the leader’s walk up 18 at Augusta National (the Masters), but it’s close. 

March has March Madness. April has the “tradition unlike any other.” May has “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” It just doesn’t get any better!

Related Articles


  1. Well Dr. Sports man , I’ll me rooting for our IU but I won’t be putting any money on them. Good article !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button