After enjoying an extra day this year, it’s finally arrived. The greatest month of them all. Yes, that’s right. It’s time for March. Why is March so special you ask? Simple. March is home to the most glorious, holiest, most exciting weeks of college basketball known to man. Yes, March Madness has arrived.
The 31 days which are lucky enough to be in the month are host to some of the greatest games of basketball all year. Dreams are realized and broken in equal measure. dominate teams crack early and Cinderella stories capture the public imagination.
This isn’t even to mention the best part of March Madness: brackets and bracketology. Bracketology has grown into a national pastime every time March rolls around. ESPN hosts its annual Tournament Challenge every March where millions compete against friends, coworkers, and strangers for bragging rights and the chance to win a grand prize.
But my love of March and college basketball didn’t come naturally. I was not raised on a steady diet of three-pointers and buzzer-beaters. Nor did I spend my days in elementary school watching the tournament on the TV wheeled into a classroom. I grew up in Middle Tennessee where SEC football reigned supreme. I honestly don’t even remember ever seeing or caring much about college basketball until middle school.
It was my eighth-grade social studies teacher who sparked my interest. We must have had a lull in content because we spent a day filling out brackets and posting them to the walls of the classroom. For the next couple of weeks, we watched and tracked the games. We’d cross out the losers and fill in the winners on our papers taped to those cinder brick walls. It was over those weeks I started to get it.
The next year, I ended up moving here to North Carolina. Somehow the state missed out on the memo that as a southern state we’re supposed to love football before all other sports. No, here basketball is supreme. So powerful is our state’s love of the game, it has the power to change laws. My transformation continued. I filled out more brackets and cared a little bit more with each passing year.
Then came Carolina. Becoming a student at UNC completely changed my relationship with basketball. Before it was just a hobby every March. Now it’s a multi-month love affair. Following the team’s progress across the season and the hopeful tournament bid is one of the best parts of being a Carolina student. It also doesn’t hurt we won a National Championship my freshman year.
And while Carolina doesn’t look like it’ll make the tournament this year, I’ll be watching. Because good basketball is good basketball (unless it’s dook).