By Tom Morrone, CFP ®, CPA
Each year the NCAA college basketball tournament games leading to the national championship game, for both the men and women, has been so correctly named March Madness. The process of determining who makes it to the 64 team brackets of play into itself has some madness associated to it as well.
There is something about college basketball that has always intrigued me. Professional games are exciting to watch also but there is something about college, playing for the pure goal of winning which sets the intensity bar at a different level. Of course the pros play to win but they are getting paid very well, win or lose. If the pros have a bad season there is always next year. College players get paid the same, win or lose, which is nothing. For the seniors on the squads, there is no next year.
School pride is on the line for the players, coaches, staff and alumni each time the players take the court. As the regular season winds down, the field of 64 teams to make the NCAA tournament begins to take shape. The road to filling those final spots is where the Madness begins. The divisions around the country each have their top teams advance to the NCAA tournament. The top 64 teams are then split into divisions and based on their team records and schedule strength, each team is assigned a position or seed. That process is also part of the Madness. Many an office betting pool has a copy of the brackets floating around.
The true March Madness name comes from the actual playing of the games and the dynamics that can only happen when so many young men are playing to win the national championship. The win or go home motivation is intense. There are the game winning shots at the buzzer. There are the underdogs knocking off the teams that were sure to win. You also see the star players stepping up. Then there are the unexpected stellar performances by other players who stepped up when their team needed something more. It is all very cool.
Of course being a UCONN men fan, it is frustrating when they don't make the tournament. The women seem to have a lifetime ticket, and deserve it. Even though my team is not in the tournament, I attempt to watch as much of as many games as possible. There is always something exciting to see.
There is nothing like March Madness.