/Open scene: Fade in a plowed corn field in the Heartland.
March in the Midwest. The ground waits. It sits idle, waiting to be worked. Waiting to receive the seed that will become food for the world. But for now, it waits.
/Scene fades to a brother and sister shooting hoops at a basket mounted on the side of a barn
All across the country, a scene unfolds. It may be a driveway, a backyard, a basement, or a barn. But the story is as old as time itself.
/Girl is heard counting down, ‘4, 3, 2…’ as the boy makes his heroic heave
/Scene cuts to a high school gym as the shot makes the iconic ‘Swish’ sound and the horn buzzes
Welcome to March. Welcome…to the Madness.
/Cue semi-applicable rock song by alternative rock band while action shots flash across the screen
Welcome to the mayhem. Over the next few weeks, people across this country (and in this writer’s case, the globe) will sit on the edge of their seats waiting. Waiting. Waiting for the euphoria. Waiting for the unpredictability. Waiting for madness to come.
Who will it be? The young superstar making clutch shot after clutch shot? The kid off the bench no one saw coming? The 5-foot-nothing guard posterizing the 7-foot giant? Or that small forward who always seems to show up at the right time?
Unlike other sports, basketball brings with it a little something extra come tourney time. Maybe it’s the brackets you filled out at work. Maybe it’s seeing how many 12-seeds pull the upset. Maybe it’s that team that can never seem to get over the hump finally making it. Or maybe it’s the wall to wall coverage for the first four days of the tournament from Noon until past Midnight.
There’s just something about this time of year, about this sport, about these teams that brings out the Madness.
/Scene fades to black then back to the corn field
And when it’s all said and done. It brings us back for more.
This is Madness. This…is March.
The next four weeks of the calendar are amongst my favorite of the year. Evidence of spring is beginning to show up. High School tourneys are happening in gyms across the country. It’s this time of year when you show an inkling of care about schools like Liberty, Valpo, Florida-Gulf Coast, and Loyola-Chicago. Sure, chalk tends to reign supreme once you get into the later stages of the NCAA tourney. But it’s hope. It’s the hope of a Cinderella story. The hope of the next VCU showing themselves to the world. The hope that for once, Janice in accounting doesn’t win the bracket pool because she went with which mascot reminded her most of her labradoodle puppy.
Enjoy these weeks. These weeks are as pure as we’re going to get until football kicks off again.