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March Madness 2021

March Madness 2021
March 26
10:00 2021

I know it’s only been two years, but having the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament back is one of the biggest joys for me, not only as a sportswriter, but also as a fan of college basketball.

2020 was a bad year when it comes to sports due to the pandemic. COVID-19 caused the cancellation of many sporting events and the tournament was one of those casualties. When I heard the news that it was going to be canceled last year, it just didn’t feel right, so to have it back is great news.

The NCAA tournament is arguably the biggest sporting event of the year for American sports fans. The Super Bowl is the only other event that I can think of that is on par with the NCAA tournament.

Even non-basketball fans tune in to watch the NCAA tournament. Many of them watch because of the tournament brackets. Almost every job where I have worked has had some sort of tournament bracket challenge. They are also popular among friends, family and the multitude of places to play online. With college basketball being so unpredictable, even the most casual fan has a great chance to win their tournament pool.

That was all taken away from us in 2020. I don’t think anyone knew how hard and fast the pandemic was going to sweep across the nation.  I assumed, like many other fans, that sports would be the last thing to be canceled. When I found out the tournament was going to be canceled last year, it really put a damper on my sports year.

The college basketball team that I root for is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With the Tar Heels having a down season in 2019-20, there was a great chance they were not going to make the tournament. Even so, I still planned on tuning in to see what team would cut down the nets to become national champions.

Once again, my Tar Heels are not a favorite to win the national championship, but there are so many other storylines that can play out. For instance, with Gonzaga, the No. 1 overall seed, they come into the tournament undefeated. They are attempting to become the first team since 1976 to finish the season undefeated.  

The Bulldogs are also the first team to go wire-to-wire as the AP poll’s No. 1 team since Kentucky in 2014-15. Gonzaga head coach, Mark Few, has had some talented teams in the past, but this may be his best chance to win a national championship and if he accomplishes it, I’ll be happy for him.

The Michigan Wolverines are another interesting team. First year head coach, Juwan Howard, has put his team in position for a deep run in the tournament. Howard is a former Wolverine and was part of the famed “Fab 5” team of the early 90s. It would be a storybook ending for Michigan if they can take home the title, especially since Howard was twice a runner-up in his career with the Wolverines.

One of the biggest things about this year’s tournament is the absence of both Duke and Kentucky. Both schools are two of the “blue blood” programs in the country and it is weird not having at least one of those programs in the tournament field. This was a down year for both teams, so no one was expecting them to win it all; however, it shows you how popular the tournament is that it still draws a lot of viewers without two of the sport’s most popular teams.

For me, it’s the one and done aspect that draws me in every year. It gives us fans something almost no other sport does. College football does have a playoff, but that’s only with four teams. March Madness has 68 teams, so it gives so many teams the same opportunity to be crowned champions. 

I can’t wait to see who’s going to win it all.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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