March Madness

Are you ready for some College basketball? Yes, its one of those signature times of year. March Madness along with exhibition baseball bridges us from Winter into Spring.

College basketball has been under fire of late. Does it have the same feel as it once did?  We get a peek back to what it once was on Sunday night as ESPN through its wonderful celebratory series 30 for 30,  will profile the Michigan “Fab Five”,  a group of freshman that helped shape the way things are today in the college game.  Even the younger fan will relate to Chris Webber and Jalen Rose who appear regularly on cable NBA coverage and analysis.

Much has changed since then, fortunately for college basketball fans, we at least get one season from high school super stars before they take their talents to the Association.  There are exceptions of course, like Brandon Jennings, who went to  Europe to serve his one year “waiting period” before entering the NBA draft. Many believe courts will eventually decide high schoolers may return to a direct entry to the NBA. Personally, I would prefer three years removed from high school, as is the case in NCAA football. How might Derek Rose, Eric Gordon, Michael Beasley,  Blake Griffin and Kevin Love spice things up? All would be in their senior seasons had they stayed in school

Selection Sunday is still a few days away. Another rite of Spring, spawning brackets across the land. Everyone does them, much like those random square pools for the Super Bowl that reward winners by quarter. Remember the trouble Rick Neuheisel got in by participating in a March Madness “office pool” while the head coach of the University Washington? Neuheisel, now the head coach at UCLA, was fired in 2003 for participating in a  tournament bracket.

Nothing beats the buzzer beaters in the NCAA tournament. Perhaps the most famous coming from Christian Laettner as Duke defeated Kentucky in the 1992 East Regionals. We will always remember NC State’s shocking win over the University of Houston in the 1983 finals. That particular classic will be remembered forever through the “V” foundation honoring the late NC State head coach Jim Valvano who died of cancer.

This year’s tournament will be presented in a different fashion.  Turner Sports has joined CBS to bring the tournament into our homes.  The new broadcast arrangement coincides with the tournament field expanding to 68 teams and for the first time all games will be carried live. Nothing compares to the round the clock “hoops”  on Thursday and  Friday as the tournament tips off with 1st and 2nd round coverage.  CBS will select feature games, with the remaining broadcast on TNT, TBS and truTV. OK, I had to look it up, truTV was formerly CourtTV, now featuring more “reality” TV programming. Might be where Charlie Sheen eventually ends up. #Winning  Check your local cable operator on that one.

Some schools have already had their tickets punched for the Big Dance. The Big East tournament is underway, historically the first of the power conferences to tip off the post season madness. Congrats are in order for the Big East, as a record shattering 11 teams are expected to participate.  In coming  days, leading up to the unveiling of the brackets on Sunday night, you will hear much about RPI’s, strength of schedule, bubble teams and the “eye ball” test. The Madness is almost here!

Author: Tom Blaz

Tom is our featured columnist on FantasySP with more than 25 years of media experience in Radio and TV. You may know his work as a beat reporter for the Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland. He also reported LIVE from the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta. He is an avid Auburn fan, and writes for The Recruiting Eagle, a website focusing on Auburn athletics.

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