The Magic Moment of March

I love Princeton 6, Kentucky 2.

I love Bucknell 10, UConn 3.

I love the first few minutes of the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, when teams with seemingly no chance believe they have a chance. It’s the most magical part of the magic. That singular moment, when you slip a backdoor layup past a guy you’ve seen 100 times on TV; past a guy who’ll be collecting enormous NBA checks next year as you intern at an accounting firm.

To me, March Madness gets increasingly boring as it continues. To me, Ohio State-Pitt or Georgetown-UCLA is useless. I love the Davids. I mean, I looooove them. I want them to win so badly, I don’t care if it kills my pool.

Back in 1998, SI sent me out to Sacramento to cover a first round. I found myself embedded with Nicholls State, the No. 16 seed. The team was about to face No. 1 Arizona, a squad loaded with Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Michael Dickerson, Miles Simon. Factually, not one member of the Nicholls team could play for the Wildcats. Not one. Yet the Rebels were convinced they were gonna pull the great upset of all time. They promised me the exclusive afterward; the big story; the insights. For a moment, I actually believed them. I thought, “Man, this will be amazing!”

They lost by, I believe, 39.

Doesn’t matter. There was that moment when they walked on the court as equals; when the score was 0-0 and anything could happen.

To me, that’s joy.

That’s bliss.

That’s the Tournament at its best.

PS: Today’s SI.com column—why the Knicks are fucking over their fans with a 49% increase in season ticket prices.

2 thoughts on “The Magic Moment of March”

  1. WOW, Jason Terry played for Arizona? Damn, I had no idea he was on the Bibby team. He’s probably the most underrated guy in the NBA.

  2. Sportswriting Refugee

    I know a lot of people feel this way, but not me. I think after so many years of following the tournament, a lot of the upsets kind of run together. It just doesn’t seem that monumental to me any more (which is true of all sports).

    I love when George Mason or Butler make it all the way through, but mostly I want to see NBA-caliber players in the Final Four. You hate UCLA-Michigan State, but to me that’s when it gets good.

    That’s probably because I’m a hard-core college hoops guy and you’re a casual fan. Not saying one is more legitimate than the other, but I definitely think that casual fans love the upsets. People who watch it all year long have heard about Bucknell or Northern Iowa or Valparaiso or Butler for months, so it’s not this nuclear bomb out of nowhere.

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