If you’re anything at all like me, this time of year is one of your favorites. I’m a huge sports nut. It’s what I’m studying at school, it’s what I’ve spent my whole life consuming, and it’s what I intend to spend the rest of my life doing.
And March Madness is just another level of sports enjoyment. You have mid major schools fighting for recognition, you have underdogs fighting for a chance,
and you have schools that are entering their first NCAA tournament after just becoming eligible this year.
Players literally leave every part of them on the floor, giving everything that they have for a chance at April glory.
Sometimes, you get heartbreak.
The beauty of it all is that these players have one chance. It’s different from the NBA or MLB where it’s most likely that the best team wins it all that year. Any favorite can get cold and lose in the second or even first round.
Or any small town team from Carolina can get carried by a future two-time NBA MVP all the way to the Elite 8.
All of these things are important. Exciting. Enthralling. Must-watch-tv.
But the best part about March, and about all of this Madness, is the bevy of opportunities that it creates.
My earliest memories of March Madness are with my dad. My dad went to Xavier University, and carried his alumni status into rabid fandom. Naturally, that fandom carried over to me as well.
Xavier has enjoyed a lot of success in the NCAA tournament in the last decade, making the Sweet Sixteen in 5/10 of those years, and even making the Elite 8 in 2008. That was the game they lost to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.
I remember watching it at a sports bar with my dad.
in 2012, they made it to the Sweet 16 to face a stacked Baylor team. They didn’t win, and in fact it wasn’t all that close until the end of the game.
I remember sitting in a hospital watching that one with my dad too.
But my most fond memory of March Madness was back in 2010. Xavier had had a good year, led by their superstar guard combo of Jordan Crawford and Tu (then Terrell) Holloway. They had a sweet 16 matchup with Kansas State.
This game was later at night on the East Coast, starting at 9. I was in 8th grade at the time, and I was at my dad’s house on a Thursday night. We snuck downstairs right around 8:30, turned on the pregame, and watched. We were relatively subdued throughout the broadcast until the end of the game, when all of the madness happened.
By that time it was close to 11, and we had to try to be quiet so as to not wake up the wake up the whole house. The game swayed back and forth, Kansas State looking like it was going to break away and Xavier matching their shots all game.
But through the magic of March, Xavier sent it to overtime.
Toward the end of the first overtime, Xavier looked done. Kansas State hit shot after shot and Xavier was finally running out of gas. And that was when it happened. Down 3 with 8 seconds left, Jordan Crawford took the ball toward the right side of the 3 point arc. He jumped up from 30 feet away and absolutely nailed the game-tying shot, sending the game to another overtime.
We were anything but quiet after that. I remember jumping, stamping, running around the first floor of the house like I never had before, and I remember my dad being right by my side during it all. It felt like I had never been that excited in my entire life, and I looked over to my dad feeling the same emotions.
I couldn’t tell you the score at the end of the game. I only remember that Xavier lost because of the article I just read on Wikipedia.
No, what i remember was much more important.
Here’s to March.