Editorial: The best sporting event in America has begun


by Hunter Hillygus, Sports Editor

March Madness has officially begun, and the best sporting event in America is underway. And the outpour of support for college basketball comes out of the woodwork from across the country.

The Creighton versus Rhode Island matchup that you couldn’t pay someone to watch in the middle of December becomes primetime television once March rolls around. The Saint Mary’s and VCU game, normally a game that would struggle to pull viewership in the five digits, becomes must-watch TV. And that’s OK, hopping on a bandwagon is a part of what makes March Madness great.

It allows you to be exposed to programs and players that you would have otherwise never heard of and gives small-school players a chance to showcase what they can do on a national stage.

Everyone remembers Florida Gulf Coast’s run in the tournament in 2013 as a 15 seed. They beat Georgetown and San Diego State before falling to Florida in the Sweet 16. You remember their high-flying act coined by national pundits as “Dunk City,” Brett Comer throwing alley-oops to Sherwood Brown and company.

March Madness gave them their stage and a chance to be remembered.

You probably don’t know what Comer and Brown are up to these days, I sure as hell know I don’t, but I remember the week in March four years ago when you couldn’t watch ESPN for five minutes without seeing one of their highlights. That’s what makes March Madness special.

It allows for future stars to be introduced to the nation.

You may remember a baby-faced point guard by the name of Steph Curry leading the Davidson Wildcats to the Elite 8 as a sophomore in 2008. Or you may recall a guard named C.J. McCollum from Lehigh leading the Mountain Hawks over Duke in 2012. You may even be reminded of Gordon Hayward, another wiry, baby-faced assassin that led the then obscure Butler Bulldogs to the national championship game in 2010, before falling to Coach K and Duke (what if that half-court shot would’ve went in though?).

All of those players are bona fide stars in the NBA now, two of the three (Curry and Hayward) having been All-Stars, Curry the first unanimous MVP in NBA history, but they all have one thing in common: They introduced themselves to the nation via the NCAA Tournament. And that’s what makes the tournament special.

You are guaranteed the seemingly impossible upsets (shout out to the 2011 VCU Rams) and the massive collapses (cough, Northern Iowa, cough).

There isn’t another American sporting event with the parity of March Madness. The same three quarterbacks (Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger) have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl for the past 13 years with the exception of 2013 when Joe Flacco led the Ravens to the championship, you can all but pencil in the Cavs and Warriors in the NBA finals, and you can pretty much predict the six or so teams that will be in the hunt for the World Series.

You can’t predict March Madness, though.

Your bracket is probably massively and horribly wrong, so is mine.

There is a team about to make some noise that we don’t see coming, there is a team we all have in the Final Four that is about to bust our brackets.

There will be a player who plays their way into America’s hearts and minds that will be working a cozy desk job at Enterprise Rent-A-Car six months from now, but, again, that’s OK. He got his moment. He’ll always remember that and so will we.

And that’s what makes March Madness special.