Eye of the Storm


by Aaron Sewell

March Madness is my second favorite time of year after football season.

It’s exciting to make a science out of my bracket as I try to determine along with everyone else in the country who will be crowned champion amongst the field of 64. Last year I spent about five hours trying to figure out which team will be crowned champion.

I put teams head-to-head with each other as according to their first round match ups. I compared their strength of schedule, biggest wins, how their season ended, home and away games, best players and bench players.

I did this process for each match up each round as I tried to define the upsets and teams that would plow their way through, but there are two things I couldn’t account for happening and never will be able to see coming.

And many of you probably experience the same thing.

The first thing is heart. Every team that makes the tournament goes in with the mindset that they’re going to win this first game then worry about the next. The 16 seed goes in with the mindset each an every year that they will be the first, lowest seed to knock off the highest seed.

The other thing is luck. A loose ball for a turnover, a 15-foot jumper with a hand in the face or a near-impossible lay-up in a crowd of defenders – these are all examples of players given an opportunity and meeting the challenge.

The mixture of heart and luck can possibly make any team unstoppable at any phase of the tournament.

A coach of mine once said “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” Whatever it is, there are many crazy things that happened when it comes tournament time.

There is obviously a reason why it is called March Madness.

Let’s take the biggest upset of last year’s tournament: University of Northern Iowa (UNI) against Kansas (KU). It was completely out of left field for 99.7 percent of America and a new definition of a bracket buster. UNI played with gusto and heart to outlast the overall number one seed in the Sweet Sixteen round.

It was a great example of heart and luck because UNI was not a consistently strong basketball program like KU. That year they made it much further than people could have imagined.

The Cinderella teams like UNI are the ones who are expected (yet unexpected) to make some sort of run for the crown.

Two higher seeds, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, have already bowed out of the tournament. The highly-hyped teams were beaten by teams with a lower seed, however, they were also beaten by teams that according to some, may have just wanted it more.

The term Bracket Buster is becoming more and more common each college basketball post-season.

Who will it be this year? Will Cinderella find her prince? Or will a powerhouse team strong-arm it to the title?