Between today and tomorrow 64 division I basketball teams (my apologies to Coppin State) will take to the hardwood with their championship dreams in tact. By Saturday morning, 32 teams worth of dreams will have ended. If you figure there are anywhere from 15 to 20 student-athletes (most of whom are going pro in something other than sports) on any given team, that’s 960 to 1280 dreams (480 to 640 dreams ending). That’s a lot of dreaming. For a lot of these athletes, this is what they were trained to do. For some, it was just a shot they took in the hopes that they would make the tournament. But for all of them, it’s the little 10 year old boy inside all of them who spent hours outside in the backyard or at the playground tossing up basketballs and acting out the game winning shot with themselves as the star. They would lie awake at night just thinking about being featured on the “One Shining Moment” video at the end of the tournament, and they hoped to be featured because they were holding the trophy and cutting down the nets.
This is why I LOVE March Madness.
Every single one of those players, whether a 16 seed or a 1 seed, believes they can win the championship. They don’t care that certain seeds have never won it all. They don’t care that certain seeds have won more championships than others. All they care about is how they play the game on that day for the opportunity to make their dreams come true. You could say it’s the largest delusional cocktail party ever created, but I prefer to think of it as believing in yourself and never giving up on what COULD happen.
In the end, you can talk all you want about guard play, defense, 3 point percentage, post players, and free throws, but what I believe wins a tournament consists of three things: wanting it more than anyone else, believing you can do it, and the extra effort it takes in every game to make it happen. And that’s where filling out a perfect bracket is impossible because those three things can’t be found on any box score or stat sheet. They can only be seen in every game between now and April 7th.
64 teams of student-athletes are taking to the hardwood over the next two days, and all of them are playing with one similar factor: