Monday, March 15, 2010

Mystique, Tradition, Mayhem: This March Has The Makings of Epic Madness

Everyone has waited for all the mayhem, which is looming closer titillating all basketball devotees to fill out brackets, keep their eyes clued to the television and unite together in a tight room rooting on their alumni or college team. One team will survive within a tournament of 64 teams, of course, seeking to bust someone’s bracket and emerge as the next Cinderella team.

Each year, a fascinating twist creates an epic tale, forcing everyone to watch a breathtaking ending to a magical story, navigated by a sleeper or an underdog that was least expected to make a convincing surge.

What we love about March Madness is the unpredictable reactions, a mesmerizing scene and electrifying finishes. This hasn’t been the most brilliant season, seeing the likes of UCLA, Indiana, UConn, and North Carolina miss the tournament. It’s a rarity, whenever a program is known for its mystique and tradition, but misses the tournament.

Either way, that is, I’ll utter the words of Dickie V. “Yeah, Baby!”

The greatest tourney in all sports is amid a dramatic countdown, awing all people across the nation to fill out elusive brackets and join pools at work.

Whether their bosses scold them near the water cooler or even at their desk for wasting much time in front of the computer curious of which team pulls off the upset or which No. 1 seed survives a decisive contest, March Madness is an extravaganza and one sporting tournament, hijacking our consciousness until the Final Four takes place in early April.

This year, the emergence of Kentucky’s John Wall and Evan Turner musters attention, both recognized as a feel-good story within two programs that were mired in disarray a year ago for underachieving. Its entire mystique was ruined, based on the failures at two schools recognized greatly for basketball and dominating the tourney in March.

But nowadays, it seems the Two K’s repossess top-seeds, returning to normalcy and balancing a ritual the Bluegrass State and the Sunflower State are accustomed to embracing. However, you cannot please all teams.

In fairness, some teams deserved a shot at contending in the biggest dance, but the committee tried handling a difficult task responsibly. There weren’t signs of favoritism, I hope. Or were there indications of giving the teams with values and tradition, a better seeding?

Duke was rated a spot higher than Syracuse when the No. 1 seeds were unveiled. To me, the Orange played in a tougher Big East conference, to whereas the Blue Devils struggled to pull off must-needed victories on the road in an undermined ACC conference.

Another argument worth screaming about is West Virginia, the Big East tournament champs, claiming a No. 2 seed, undervalued by Syracuse and the devastating injury of senior center Arinze Onuaku. The section committee chairman Dan Guerrero is catching heat, after disregarding acceptable schools such as Mississippi State and Virginia Tech.

The final six teams selected in the field of 64 teams, such as UTEP, Minnesota, and Missouri were lucky based on how well they played in their conference tournament. If so, why Mississippi State never earned a bid?

Very interesting!

Aside from all the pontificating and debating on which team should’ve earned a berth to the big dance, even greater, the Madness will be tense and thrilling. In what is set to be an epic theater, we embrace a shining moment wondering which team is this year’s George Mason, Western Kentucky, or Davidson. Rarely ever is March disappointing, but becomes the month of fools, perhaps, early then April.

None of this is overexposure, but a moment for us to relish sports in a different way as teams defy the odds. It’s certainly more enthralling the NBA, a league that has become dull over the years, with its usual format.

The best-of-seven format doesn’t implement enough suspense and thrills, as the NCAA tourney. Each year, you never know what is bound to happen within an erratic sporting event that incites a large debate and bracketologists to intermingle with the biggest showdown in college sports.

If tournament week was any indictor, we’ll predict New Mexico is a sleeper out of the Mountain West conference. How about Cornell, a team from the Ivy Leauge?

Quite fittingly, the glass slipper may actually fit on the feet of a team that has buried more three-pointers than any other team in the field of 65. Settling for an average of 9.8 per game, Cornell is a dangerous out, regardless of facing Temple, an unselfish and deepest team in the Atlantic 10 conference.

The Owls are capable of slowing down Cornell’s three-point game, and taking them out of their comfort zone. But take a closer look at Houston and Siena, too. If there’s one Cinderella team in the tournament, Siena has a chance to ruin brackets.

You’ve been warned, pick the Saints to advance pass an ailing Purdue in the first-round. By losing star player Robbie Hummel to season-ending knee injury, the Boilermakers weren’t nearly as powerful in the Big Ten tournament.

Each year, there’s a new personality in the tournament and the field of 64 teams. This year, the menaces are all the No. 1 seeds, craving and coveted to reach the biggest stage at Indianapolis. Reminder to all folks filling out a bracket, Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke are tenacious and vigorous in advancing to the Final Four.

Let’s give our thumbs up to committee for granting the Jayhawks a No. 1 seed. With the exception of Bill Self, point guard Sherron Collins, center Cole Aldrich, shooting guard Xavier Henry and twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, you could be starring at the bottomless team in the nation, a team destined of the Final Four.

In conversions to break out amid the tourney, are Georgetown and Maryland, courtesy of the National Player of the Year nominees in Hoyas’ center Greg Monroe and Terrapins’ guard Grevis Vasquez, both experienced star players with tremendous talent.

It’s tough to call, having the powerhouses of the SEC in the mix. The Kentucky Wildcats are groomed and cultivated by the cleverness of John Calipari. Based on his history, he has prepared his teams for big games.

So rather the Wildcats are too young and inexperienced, his coaching method may strengthen and encourage Wall and DeMarcus Cousins of uplifting their performance. As we know, Wall is lightening quick and Cousins takes advantage inside the interior with his muscular body and wingspan to collect boards and tip in a shot before the end of regulation expires.

Is it a new dynasty for Duke? Seems Mike Krzyzewski has the Blue Devils on the right track. But in what seems to be the most vulnerable team in the South region, the boys from North Carolina are the hottest team near Tobacco Road winning four straight games and 11 their last 12 games.

It’s an understatement ignoring the Blue Devils, with the highest scoring trio in the nation. Guards Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith and forward Kyle Singler are the difference in Duke’s ideal winning streak.

Meanwhile, facing Louisville and Villanova later down the road, could spell trouble.

What has the makings for the best storyline early in the sporting year, March Madness has the makings for the greatest epic classics in sports.

We’ll certainly watch.