March is upon us, and for many sports fans, this is a hallowed time of year.
The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship selections will be revealed Sunday with the “first round” beginning Tuesday and the true madness getting under way Thursday morning.
Office printers will soon see increased production as countless brackets are run off. People who did not even realize college basketball was being played will join pools, confidently proclaiming the school they graduated from will win it all.
Diehard fans are currently concocting schemes to get out of work next work, beginning to complain about a tickle in their throat that will coincidentally become a self-diagnosed, full-blown bout of the flu by Wednesday.
Some men go as far as undergoing the most undesirable of operations in order to spend a couple days eating buffalo wings and potato chips on the couch while immersing themselves in the wall-to-wall tournament coverage. Yep, March has become a popular time of year for vasectomies. Look it up for yourself.
Point is people absolutely love March Madness.
It is one of the few sporting events that anybody and everybody gets wrapped up in. Sure, the Super Bowl generates tons of attention and viewers, but a large portion of the audience is watching the commercials more than the game.
Bowl games target specific audiences, and virtually nobody outside of the finalists’ fan bases really cares who emerges in the NBA, MLB or NHL.
But college basketball is different.
The years have proven anything can and typically does happen en route to the Final Four. The mere potential for buzzer beaters, upsets and comebacks captivate the country, especially in the opening rounds.
With the greater Killeen area being the breeding ground for a wealth of collegiate talent, ironically, very few of the local products will have a vested interest in the tournament — at least not the ones who play for Texas schools.
According to Joe Lunardi – ESPN’s resident guru of “bracketology” – as of Wednesday, only one school from the Lone Star State is projected to make the field of 68. No, it is not Killeen product Cory Jefferson’s Baylor Bears or his former teammate TaShawn Thomas’ Houston Cougars.
It is not the Longhorns, Aggies, Red Raiders, Miners, Bobcats, Roadrunners or Horned Frogs either.
The Lone Star State’s lone representative is expected to be Stephen F. Austin, and while there are no former area players currently on the team, there will be an extremely excited onlooker from Copperas Cove should the projections hold true.
The Bulldawgs’ leading scorer Cory Scott committed to play for the Lumberjacks in mid November and has been seen sporting purple at every opportunity since. Scott became the first player to emerge from Copperas Cove’s basketball program to sign with a Division I team and nobody could blame him if he played hooky from school to watch his soon-to-be teammates compete in the big dance.
Nothing could top actually participating in the tournament, but witnessing your future team play has to be special. Knowing you could be in the same position next season must be as overwhelming as it is reassuring.
Hundreds of high school prospects will be anxiously watching the team they committed to as it competes in the most popular spectacle in all of American sports.
They will probably each feel the butterflies as if they were there, and the experience should spark an all-consuming drive to make sure they do everything in their power to contribute toward a repeat run to the tournament next season.
Hope consumes the month of March. Some people hope their team makes a deep run, while others hope they filled out a perfect bracket. Most simply hope they can fool their bosses into believing they are working when they are actually watching a nailbiter online.
Then, there are the lucky few who do not need hope because they know without a shadow of a doubt, whether their team wins or loses, they made the right decision.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org