Soaking in the Madness

graphic by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Avery/" title="View all of this person's work">"Avery</a></span>

graphic by Avery Hom

The name March comes from the Roman god of war Mars, and “war” is a perfect word for describing what every college basketball fan is itching for in March Madness, with each round being  its own battle. One chance, two teams. All-Americans, first round draft picks, players of the year—all of that goes out the window. We’re talking buzzer beaters, full court shots, big time dunks, underdogs and the making of legends. Guys like Trey Burke, Jim Valvano, Kemba Walker, Frank Kaminsky, and Lorenzo Charles have written themselves into the history books. Teams and coaches over the years have cemented their place in the eternal glory of March.  

Overall, March Madness excites sports fans across the nation every year due to one intriguing aspect of the tournament: upsets. One of the great upsets in recent history was when Wisconsin defeated Kentucky in the Final Four. Although they were both number one seeds in the tournament, Kentucky was undefeated and was heavily favored to win the whole tournament, led by underclassmen Karl-Anthony Towns (Number 1 Overall pick) and multiple other future first round draft picks and NBA stars. Wisconsin, on the other hand, had what seemed to be your standard college team of guys who might have gone to your typical high school. After an intense battle of two hot teams, the Badgers edged the Wildcats to go to the championship game.  That Wisconsin team will forever be remembered as the group that took down arguably the greatest college basketball team ever assembled.

graphic by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"John/" title="View all of this person's work">"John</a></span>

graphic by John Liang

Almost a decade ago, Kemba Walker led the UConn Huskies on an unlikely 11 game win streak starting in the Big East Conference tournament to an unprecedented NCAA championship. March Madness combines the thrill of seeing 11 seeds VCU and George Mason make it to the final four in 2011 and 2006 respectively, with the agony of Butler’s Gordon Hayward’s heaving of a half court shot at the buzzer, coming inches away from underdog Butler beating Duke in the 2010 championship. Part of why we see so many upsets in March Madness is due to the win or go home aspect of the tournament. Teams only have one chance to survive and advance. In the NBA, teams have a seven game series and the best team almost always wins. In March Madness, however, each game is pretty much a fifty-fifty throw up and people want to see the underdog win. Fans watch schools they have never heard of before like Mercer and Middle Tennessee State from take down schools like Duke, and Indiana.

People think of March Madness for all of the excitement it brings. However, March Madness was also used to fight for racial equality when the University Of Texas El Paso, lead by Hall Of Fame Coach Don “The Bear” Haskins, defeated Kentucky in 1966. Haskins started five black players in the game, making a statement that African-Americans were going to have an equal place in college basketball. This was a groundbreaking feat for racial equality in sports during a time when there were little to no blacks in basketball.

graphic by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Christopher/" title="View all of this person's work">"Christopher</a></span>

graphic by Christopher Wang

So, with the Final Four quickly approaching, soak in the craziness that March brings on the hardwood.  The Roman god of war probably didn’t know what basketball was, but we can be glad that the month which bears his name holds one of the greatest spectacles in sports.

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