There's nothing like March Madness

When there are so many games played over a short period of time there are bound to be upsets.

UCLA Bruins 88 (photo credit: )
UCLA Bruins 88
(photo credit: )
There is nothing like being in the midst of March Madness. Ever since Oregon edged out Ohio State in 1939, nothing has captured the attention of the sporting public like the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships. Throughout the years nothing has brought drama, excitement, tension and nerves like March Madness has. Who can forget UCLA dominating in the 60s and 70s with 10 titles in 12 years? Coached by John Wooden and led by Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and Bill Walton, the mighty Bruins represented the pinnacle of collegiate sports. Not one has come close to matching that dynasty, but Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina always seem to be up there. Filling out tournament brackets is a big part of the excitement generated by March Madness. Everyone has a go predicting the winner of all the games. Like much sports tipping, sometimes less knowledge is more with the supposed experts who pore over mounds of statistics doing poorer than someone who knows nothing about anything. When there are so many games played over a short period of time there are bound to be upsets and March Madness has provided those and then some. No No. 1seed has ever lost to a 16, but it's only a matter of time until that happens. One of the biggest upsets was Villanova's win over Georgetown in 1985. Coppin State's win over South Carolina in the first round of 1997 was also pretty big. Like with many major sports event, sadly the championship game can be somewhat of an anti-climax. With everyone having such high expectations for the game, it can often fall short. What can also fall short are the professional careers of great collegiate players. Many a time a much touted prospect has fizzled under the bright lights and multiple distractions of professional sport. Previous NCAA tournament MVPs read like a who's who of basketball with names such as Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor, James Worthy, Akeem Olajuwon and Isiah Thomas on the honor roll. More contemporary winners haven't been as successful. Danny Manning, who dominated the 1988 tournament, was one of the most heralded college players of all time. He led Kansas to the title and had the world at his feet, but continual knee problems meant he only ever showed glimpses of the great player he was. Christian Laettner had expectations even higher than Manning. The Duke star player never cut it in the NBA and was shuffled around to six different teams, all trying to extract the performances he had produced for the Blue Devils. Other names such as Mateen Cleaves, Jeff Sheppard, Ed O'Bannon and Miles Simon have faded into oblivion but that is the nature of professional sport. One day you are a star, the next day you are the person who used to be a star. Society has a very short attention span and unless you continue to deliver and perform time will pass you by. A cruel and fickle business, but they are the risks involved with being paid exorbitant amounts of money to throw a ball through a hoop. Also run through the hoops were the major leaguers at the World Baseball Classic. Cuba and Japan had the greatest success at the tournament because they devote the most time to the fundamentals of the game. The Dominican Republic had a wonderful offensive line-up but unfortunately they went cold at the wrong time. To the chagrin of the nay-sayers, the tournament was a triumph for the sport. Japan won but it was the tournament itself who was the real victor. Hopefully next time the Major League clubs will be more enthusiastic and that will in turn lend itself to an ever better tournament.