The NCAA Basketball Tournament is perhaps the greatest of all sports events we visit on an annual basis. It starts with four playing days to whittle a select group of 64 basketball teams to 16. A champion can be crowned that starts anywhere on the bracket.
In College football, they have in recent years offered the National Championship to one of four select teams. The nearly two months of endless bowl games named for anything from tractors to fast food restaurants, is never going to open the door to a National Championship for anyone in the field outside the four chosen squads.
Imagine if we had the NCAA Basketball Tournament where 67 games were played and no matter what those results the title was only available to be won by Gonzaga, Illinois, Baylor or Michigan, this year’s four number one seeds. The fact that they are top seeds does not mean they are the only four with a chance at the title. A few years ago the first number one seed was knocked out in the first round by a 16th seed, yesterday, second seed Ohio State was eliminated in overtime by Oral Roberts, a 15th seed.
This is competition at its best, and every year the tournament produces excitement that inspired Brent Musberger to ad lib during a recap of a particularly competitive day in tournament play the words March Madness. That’s right, the hall of fame broadcaster who is best known for his opening line while anchoring the CBS National Football League pregame show, “You are looking live at …” also gave the NCAA Tournament it’s best brand slogan.
Today, another 16 games in this tournament of tournaments will be played, and no doubt a free throw made or missed will prove decisive and a long range three pointer is likely to decide a competitive game. A few interesting stories are developing for Pac 12 teams, five of them are participating in this year’s tournament, the most from this conference since it fielded seven teams in 2016.
Not only are there a lot of teams from the Pac 12 in the tournament, they have won their first two contests. UCLA downed Michigan State on Thursday in a play-in game and Oregon State upset Tennessee yesterday. The Bruins are back in action today and joined in the competition by three other Pac 12 squads, USC, Colorado and Oregon.
We are also going to see how Virginia rebounds from their bout with the Virus. The team was forced to drop out of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on March 11 based on a positive Covid-19 test. They have been quarantined since, arriving in Indianapolis after all the other teams and needing one more negative test before meeting Ohio in a contest set to begin at 4:15 p.m Pacific Time.
My job is to sort through all the critical factors with an eye on making this most enjoyable sporting event also profitable.