It's awesome, baby! Ah, the battle cry of Dick Vitale. It really is a great way to describe March Madness.
My earliest memories were of the 1991 NCAA tournament when Duke beat UNLV in the national semi-finals one year after being annihilated in the championship game a year before. It was the first of consecutive titles for the Duke Blue Devils. I became a big fan of Duke, and it seems every other college basketball fan became a hater. When I look back at it, I think I just really liked the Duke logo and the royal blue uniforms.
I later became a huge Umass Minuteman fan. Partly because I lived twenty minutes from campus, but more likely because of Marcus Camby and how dominant they were in the mid 90's. They were #1 slayers. If you were the #1 ranked team in the country, Umass would have a game for the ages and beat you. I eventually went to school and graduated with a degree from Umass.
As I get older, I realized it's less about the teams I like and more about my 64-team bracket. And, yes, I still only think it is 64 teams. I don't mean any disrespect; I just don't acknowledge the play in games. The first round starts on Thursday...and that's that.
You get four straight days of constant action two weeks in a row, starting at noon and ending around midnight. Throughout the day, there are highs and lows. Many brackets are busted and many are near perfect. I seem to always have a great opening Thursday and a lousy Friday. It never fails.
Either way, I am glued to the scores, which are scrolling on the of the screen. I'm also feverishly changing channels from game to game, avoiding any commercials and making sure I am watching basketball at all times. Even at work, I have CBS Sports running and my finger close to the mouse to be able to click the boss button if the higher ups at work close in quickly to see what I'm doing. I'm streaming one of the most bet sports tournaments in the country...get with it people! Fill out a bracket, pay your ten bucks, and let's see who wins the pot.
And this goes back to what I was saying earlier: you don't have to be a fan of a specific team, although, it wouldn't hurt. It would surely be much more exciting. I once had so much at stake with my bracket that I was rooting for a school called Gonzaga. I never even heard of Gonzaga before, not until they had a magical run in the 1999 tournament. Now I think they'll make it to the Final Four every year.
It's just a beautiful thing. I encourage everyone to fill out a bracket. Even if you pick your winners based on the colors each team wears. I've been picking with a certain strategy since the late 90's, and I haven't won a pool in all that time, so your guess is as good as mine. But, seriously, there is so much happening, so much drama; you owe it to yourself to participate in that company pool. If you're lucky enough to win it, that's great. You'll take down a lot of money. If not, at least you were able to watch some solid basketball.