Jay C. Brandriet
I’m not a college basketball fan.
I’ve given it time, and respect it’s place in the world of sports.
It’s created amazing history, and feeds the NBA it’s athletes.
The most viewed college game ever (Magic vs Bird) was played ten miles from my childhood home.
I’ve attended NCAA tournament games.
For a radio job, I covered the Mountain West Conference in basketball for three years.
Up close, I watched guys like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmer Fredette.
These young men’s efforts through urgency, is a real thing.
The fans and atmosphere in college, is bananas.
In the late 1990’s, I surrendered to just HOW popular the NCAA tournament is.
The format alone creates excitement.
Think about it. You put 68 teams in a cage, not allowed to lose once?
EVERYTHING would be more intense, in one and done situations.
I GET THE HYPE
I remember the imprint the tourney leaves on people.
It feels like spring fever, a legit reason to sluff, and a Samoa Girl Scout cookie.
I think of Coach K., Larry Johnson’s Runnin’ Rebels, and Andre Miller.
68 fighters with their eyes on the prize.
Is Cinderella here this year?
Odd matchups we would normally never see.
One shining moment.
The games take place in a variety of gyms, and different than normal start times.
It’s college basketball’s ultimate buffet.
It’s also the obsession, with filling out brackets.
THE STRANGEST PART OF MARCH MADNESS
The opening of this tournament is CRAZINESS.
The beginning feels MUCH bigger than the ending.
The chaotic clash of 68, moves the meter more than the eventual champion will.
As schools get eliminated and brackets get busted, interest dips.
Die hards don’t waver, but the crowd’s buzz starts to wear off.
COMPARING IT TO OTHER SPORTS
College football gets a bit choppy in its spread-out bowl system, but is one of the hottest burning sports in America.
Let’s picture the starting point for the NFL, NBA, and MLB post seasons. The anticipation is super high. Lots of teams and stories are in the mix. They all feel BIGGER as the days and rounds move forward.
Day one of The Masters feels like a celebration.
Does it compare to a competitive Sunday in the clutch?
I’m not saying the Final 4, and NCAA Championship game can’t often be awesome AND have elite ratings.
It’s just unique how the momentum is on the front end.
University of Utah play by play guy Bill Riley said the following yesterday….
“My favorite time of the year in sports, is the first four days of March Madness.”
Russ Riggs showed up annually to tell me how lame I was for not loving this tournament.
David Schultz has followed up on the tradition.
I’m not arguing the NBA versus college basketball.
Some like purity and single elimination.
I like series, that determine the world’s best players and team.
Some like both.
Many say, there is nothing like March Madness.
That’s true, in more ways than one.
Jay C. Brandriet