Dancing without stars

If I gave it my best guess I would say Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh and North Carolina will compete in this year’s Final Four. But what do I know? The brackets have been set and the predictions have been made for this year’s NCAA Tournament, which we as sports fans refer to as March Madness, and more intimately know as “The Big Dance”. Some really good teams danced their way out of this tournament, and some lousy teams moon-walked in. Either way, play will begin Thursday and it just leaves me wondering, why are we so excited about this basketball tournament?

When I relate it to the NBA games and the basis of their magnitude, I contrast the different leagues and am fascinated by what makes them entirely different. For instance, this year we may see an NBA Finals match-up that stars Kobe Bryant versus Lebron James, two of the highest paid and profiled athletes that the sports industry has ever seen. If this happens, more people will watch this series than any other previous one for the star appeal that it brings. Some people won’t know Trevor Ariza or Delonte West, but they will be watching because the commercial said Lebron James was facing off against Kobe Bryant.

In the NCAA tournament, all of the players, whether they lead the team in scoring or warm the bench, are playing for a scholarship and live in college dorms. They attend classes, some that they don’t wish to be in and normally function in an average lifestyle. We’re talking about amateurs playing on very real stage with the chance at a fairy tale ending.

The favorites to win the tournament, North Carolina, may be without its best player Ty Lawson in the first game of the tournament due to injury, and the same injury may prevent him from being the explosive point guard he is known to be. That won’t work well as an excuse for the Tar Heels. Lawson, with all due respect, is not even a household name.-nobody playing in this tournament is. With the exception of Oklahoma’s Player of the Year Blake Griffin, there is no true marquee player and certainly no marquee matchup in any of these brackets. There are some number one seeds and there are some number 16 seeds. In between we have a lot of teams that could easily shift the momentum in their favor. We’re getting ready for a do-ordie tournament. It will be win or go home, not win or play another game in the best of seven series. For forty minutes, it is anybody’s game.

My bracket has low seed Texas A&M beating No. 1 seed UConn in the second round. Why not? Many laugh at the idea but that is the NBA mentality carrying over into this tournament. What player for UConn is so great that they absolutely cannot lose to Texas A&M? There isn’t one. If Ty Lawson is hurt, is Tyler Hansborough the kind of superstar that could guarantee his team a win against Western Kentucky if it came down to it? They could lose to them the same way they lost to conference rival Florida State last weekend. My bracket has North Carolina winning the whole dance but I’m hoping they lose. Why not to Syracuse? They just won arguably the most hard-fought basketball game to date. Sounds like a champion to me. You don’t know, I don’t know. We will just have to watch the “dance”.

It’s almost like Christmas to the basketball world. Think about it: in the old days, this is where the “stars” were born anyway.

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