I don’t follow college basketball during the regular season. I’m not a huge basketball fan. I can’t name many players, or recite facts of the top of my head. My dad calls weekly and gives me an update about recent games he has seen. I don’t claim to be an expert. I will, however, tune in when our beloved Wolverines take the court, and maybe even when my hometown favorites—Temple, Nova, and La Salle suit up. But I hardly follow religiously.
However, when March roles around, I invest myself in the Big Dance. I wait eagerly for Selection Sunday. I start paying attention. I read up on teams. I spend time carefully crafting my bracket, think long and hard about which pools to enter, and form fierce loyalties with teams that I’ve never even seen play once.
I used to think that I loved the tournament because I love the competition. I played sports through high school. I cared more than I should have about my private-school-league playoff games. I still get a little too invested in my Intramural teams at Michigan. I just figured this is why I loved March Madness.
But last night, as I watched Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown in round one, I realized that the reason I love March Madness is for the same reason that I love writing. It’s about the story. For the seventh time since the tournament began, a number fifteen seed upset a number two seed. And it wasn’t just any number two seed, it was Georgetown, a school that has been branded a basketball powerhouse, and has relied much on that reputation (despite the fact they haven’t made it out of round one in three years).
For most March Madness followers (brackets aside), it was nice to see Georgetown lose. And then there is Florida Gulf Coast, a team you might not have even heard of until yesterday. They university was founded in 1997. They only built their basketball stadium seven years ago. This is there first trip to the tournament. With their win yesterday, they because a perfect Cinderella team. David beat Goliath. Basketball fans can’t help but root for the Eagles—even if it screws over their bracket. That’s what I love about the NCAA tournament. Every year, there is team like Florida Gulf Coast that reminds me of all the important elements of a good story—pathos, suspense, surprise, and excitement. Any other March Madness followers out there?