Growing up in Central Kentucky in the 1970s-1980s, you could not get through the month of March without being inundated by college basketball. The gas stations, banks and grocery stores would be decked out even more than usual with banners and flags in University of Kentucky blue. TV commercials that month would be UK-themed, and everyone was talking basketball all the time in Big Blue Nation.
When I went away to college, I was amazed to learn that in other parts of the United States, March could represent something other than hoops scores and trash-talking. For me, I was at college at Northwestern, located in the Chicago area and on the quarter system. The month of March came to symbolize not only brutal weather, but also finals week. That was also when I learned that not every team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Our hometown Kentucky Wildcats had been invited every year of my life without fail, so I had falsely assumed that every other college was competing at the tournament too! In the four years I was there, my alma mater sadly never made it once to the tournament.
A winner is someone who can look in the mirror at the end of the day and say in pursuit of my goals and dreams I gave my best.Dick Vitale
Whether or not you like basketball, or even if your favorite team is not competing in the Madness, the NCAA Tournament provides a great opportunity to enjoy college athletics from all over the country with your friends and family. While it’s too late to create your own Bracket Challenge for this year, don’t forget next March that ESPN provides free tools to set up some friendly competition with your friends, family and/or coworkers.
The month of March can feel long and dreary, but the college hoops tournament can introduce some great collegial spirit into these last few weeks of winter. Already this year’s competition has seen numerous underdogs come out victorious, and who doesn’t love a great upset story? That’s what March Madness is all about. Go Cats!
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