Sunday, October 26, 2014

March Sadness

NCAA tournament brings misery to 67 teams

The NCAA tournament may be the most exciting event in all of sports.

Until the March Sadness sets in.

Every year, 68 teams enter the tournament, but only one is left standing. Second place counts for nothing. So while one team and its fan base gets to rock and roll all night and party every day for a year, the other 67 have to fight off the tears and wait until next March.

The second round of this year’s tournament provided more than its fair share of March Sadness in itself. One round, yet so much sadness.

When Texas’ Cameron Ridley picked up a loose ball under the basket and flicked up a lefty hook that left his fingertip with .01 seconds as time expired, it was madness. The shot of the Arizona State players on the bench, or rather off the bench, said it all — they slumped to the floor, face down in disbelief. It was sadness.

When 14-seeded Mercer upset third-seeded Duke just 20 minutes from the Blue Devils’ campus at the RBC Center in Raleigh, it was madness. Duke fans probably watched their only season with future NBA stars Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood end earlier than anyone could have guessed. Parker could have made it back to Durham for his afternoon classes. It was sadness.

When all-sport powerhouse Ohio State met cross-state foe Dayton in their “second-round” matchup and Dayton scored with less than four seconds remaining while Buckeyes star Aaron Craft missed a floater at the buzzer, it was madness. The senior Craft lay down under the basket, arms behind his head after his shot clanked off the rim. There was no emotion on his face, but you could tell what was churning inside of him. It was sadness.

When St. Louis came back from a 16-point, second-half deficit to beat North Carolina State University (N.C. State), it was madness. N.C. State went 20-37 from the free throw line to give the game away. ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren dropped his head for most of the postgame interview session in shame. It was sadness.

As a rabid fan of N.C. State basketball (and all things N.C. State), I can truly say the sadness I felt after that Saint Louis collapse was sadness I had rarely, if ever, felt. I was in shock. I did not want to talk to anybody. I saw people who were celebrating Saint Louis’ victory because it helped their bracket and wanted to punch them straight in the nose. It might have helped a little twig of their bracket, but it ruined my day. Which is more significant?

I saw media personalities tweeting about how the madness was so great and saying stuff like, “If you don’t love this, you don’t love sports.” Well, when something crazy happens at the expense of your rooting interest, you wish that sports never were invented. It would be easier that way.

March Madness is a very real thing. Crazy things happen in March. Grant Hill quarterbacked a perfect pass to Christian Laettner in ’92 to send Duke to the Final Four. Lorenzo Charles dunked in an air ball to give N.C. State a National Championship victory over the mighty Phi Slamma Jamma Houston Cougars. Names like Bryce Drew and Tyus Edney will endure for years because of their havoc-wreaking in the tournament.

Unfortunately for everyone else, March Sadness is just as real.

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