Sports Commentary: Just plain madness

A friend of mine came up to me the other day and asked an extremely tough question.
He asked, “Which weekend in sports is better: The first weekend of March Madness or the NFL Divisional Playoffs?”

After a few minutes of thinking, my answer was the NFL Divisional Playoffs, although it definitely was not an easy choice for me.

March Madness captures the attention of almost everyone in America, as people check their brackets hourly to see which picks they’ve gotten right and where they stand in their annual March Madness pools.

Upsets happen almost every day, and it’s almost like there is at least one close game for every four games.

Going into the tournament, I once again had high hopes for my ability to pick the correct upsets and finally be able to win a bracket challenge.

However, this year has already been filled with upsets, some that people expected and others that have shocked much of the country’s population.

Unfortunately, I am part of that population, and my bracket is currently one of the worst in the nation.

Although my bracket may not be doing well, March Madness has still given me a sport to watch every hour of every day.

I find myself so focused on the game that I can’t hold conversations or pay attention to anything else.

The first round of this year’s tournament definitely did not disappoint, as 11 first round games were decided by five points or less.

In the first set of games, the No. 4 seed and heavily favored Louisville Cardinals took on the relatively unknown Morehead State, which was a No. 13 seed.

This was supposed to be an automatic win for the Cardinals, as they play in the best conference and have a veteran coach who has had success in the tournament.

However, the pesky Morehead State players consistently hit big shots throughout the game, and none bigger than the game-winning three-pointer by point guard Demonte Harper with about three seconds left on the clock.

This put Morehead State up by one, and a last attempt by Louisville to win the game was blocked, sending a team that no one knew about to the round of 32 in a huge upset.

The first day also featured a buzzer-beating layup by the eighth-seeded and defending champion Butler Bulldogs and a last possession win by the seventh-seeded Temple Owls.

With a ton of highly contested games in the first round, I would have been happy with the tournament as a whole even if it ended yesterday. But of course, March Madness does not end there.

A match-up between the No. 4 team in the country, the Pittsburgh Panthers, and the previously mentioned Butler Bulldogs may go down as the craziest game in NCAA history.

For the first thirty-nine minutes, the Bulldogs and the Panthers went back and forth, trading baskets to set the game up for a wild finish.

Down by one point with the ball and about ten seconds left on the clock, Butler brought up the ball and with promptly hit a potentially game-winning layup with 2.2 seconds left on the clock.

With no timeouts, it looked like Pittsburgh was on its way to another heartbreaking loss in the NCAA tournament, which seems to happen every year.

However, on the inbounds play, Butler guard Shelvin Mack inexplicably fouled Pittsburgh guard Gilbert Brown, which put Brown on the line with a chance to win the game by shooting free throws.

After making the first free throw, Brown missed the second, and it looked like this already exciting game was going to go into overtime.

That was until Pittsburgh’s Nasir Robinson fouled Butler’s Matt Howard on a full-court shot, which could go down as the worst foul in NCAA Tournament history. Howard promptly made one of two free throws to seal Pittsburgh’s fate, and will now move on to the Sweet 16 to play fourth-seeded Wisconsin.

It is games like these that define the beauty of March Madness, where any team can beat another on a given day.
This marks the second year in a row that a No. 1 seed has gone down in the round of 32, as Kansas lost last year to relatively unknown Northern Iowa.

In any other sport, the best teams often take care of business to move on to the semi-finals and finals of tournaments because of the way the playoffs are set up.

In March Madness, one game decides everything, which allows small schools that come out and play flawless games to knock off a team that would beat them nine out of 10 times otherwise.

Looking at today’s matchups, I wouldn’t be surprised if all eight games came down to the wire.

Knowing me, I’ll probably be on the losing side of every one of those games as well. But that is life.