Goodbye March Madness, hello schoolwork

Every spring around March 17 something happens in the lounges of colleges everywhere. College basketball pushes schoolwork out of millions of students’ heads.

“We don’t have off for March Madness?” joked junior Ryan Cressman, while watching the first round of the tournament in the NCH second floor lounge.

“Wait a minute – I had class today?” first-year Matt Cox added laughing.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – given the nickname March Madness – devours the attention of college students and hoops fans everywhere.

It’s the most spontaneously exciting yet short-lived part of a sports fan’s year.

Out of nowhere come the brackets, and then people suddenly start caring about teams like Bradley, Montana and George Mason. For three weeks hopes rise and fall about as many times as the basketball hits the court, and then it’s all over.

The NCAA Tournament disappears from everyone’s attention as suddenly and unnoticed as Groundhog Day.

When it’s over, regular life resumes. Less than a week after its conclusion, you won’t hear anyone talking about the NCAA Tournament. But for three weeks it is captivating – that is, until your bracket falls apart.

Not just college students, but nearly every person in America with a degree of interest in basketball ends up filling out a bracket and putting money into a “pool” during the NCAA Tournament.

People cry if their picks lose and sing when their teams win. March Madness is the only spectacle in sports that people will go ballistic over one minute and then be perfectly relaxed and back to normal 10 minutes later.

For fans in the area, there is even more reason to get excited about the tournament this year. Just three or four miles down the road from Eastern, Villanova is receiving national recognition, ranked as one of the number-one seeds in the tournament.

Should Villanova win the tournament it would not be the first time our friendly neighbors have been national champions. Villanova won the NCAA tournament in 1985, pulling off a major upset over Georgetown.

If Villanova wins this year, you can be sure that there will be some major celebrating going on down Lancaster Avenue.

Whatever its appeal, whatever magical ingredients it has that causes people who aren’t even college basketball fans to become fixated on television screens and bracket picks for three weeks in March, the NCAA Tournament is special to sports.

In the middle of a group of students huddled in the NCH lounge on Thursday night watching CBS’s coverage of the first round, Cressman put it: “March Madness brings people together.”

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