PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – They are upon us.
They are almost here.
The best two days on the sports calendar.
You might think I’m crazy, you might thoroughly disagree, but isn’t that what we love about sports — that it offers such wide-ranging opinion on things?
Anyhow, this coming Thursday and Friday — when the real first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament games happen — are the best two days sports has to offer.
That’s my opinion, at least.
It is, for a sports consumer, pure bliss.
It is, for a gambler (small or large, amateur or professional), pure bliss.
It is, for anyone who appreciates excitement and the possibility of David slinging that rock and knocking Goliath in the head, pure bliss.
Oh yes. What a couple days.
You see, you can tell me how the Super Bowl is better. You can tell me all about the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, Bowl season, the NBA Finals, the World Cup, the Masters, or one of golf’s Opens and all of those mighty events. They are grand, to be sure — but not like the end of this week.
Tell me how exciting the Kentucky Derby or the Daytona 500 is and I don’t disagree — but give me this Thursday and Friday over it all. There is nothing, at all, like it.
Here is why it cant’s be topped …
First, it seems everyone you know has a rooting interest in just about each game. No matter how big or small, no matter if they are living and dying with a team or just kind of into it, they have a rooting interest. You know why? Bracket pools. That’s why.
No matter if it’s some bluehair in H.R. who picks all the Catholic schools because she never misses 6 a.m. mass (she has Xavier and Marquette going far – again – this year) or some guy in accounting who is steeped in the heavy advanced metrics of the brackets and has his “system,” it seems just about each person you know is in a pool. The proliferation of such bracket contests has forced a spike in the NCAA Tournament and by extension a spike in interest and excitement in Thursday and Friday.
“Noooooooooooooooooooooo!” you might hear bellow from the office break room at about 3 p.m. on Thursday or Friday as a buzzer-beater falls and that invariable No. 5 seed goes down to a No. 12 and someone gets one half of their bracket busted wide freaking open. And, you know, they really thought they had a great bracket this year; they really thought they were going to win this thing.
Nothing — and I mean nothing in sports — brings us together like the March Madness bracket contest. Hell, I see names of people I didn’t even know worked in the same workplace as I do in our bracket contest each year and, admit it, you do too.
Secondly, the amount of games played on Thursday and Friday lends itself to excitement. I’m no math expert, but it seems the more games that are played, the higher probability there is that some will go down to the wire — and it seems a decent number often do.
In addition, there is that chance of the underdog beating that big, bad bully.
People love the underdog; it rivets them.
That storyline never gets old. Some team from the OVC or NEC or SWAC stepping up and beating a big-time power.
On top of that, on the East coast games start at noon and run deep into the night, making Thursday and Friday an all-day basketball bonanza. So, if you have all day to plop down on the couch and watch or just a little while to see a snippet, there always seems to be live action and exhilaration happening inside that TV.
Oh man, what a day. What a couple days. For me there is nothing as electrifying on the sports slate all year. I can’t wait.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.