I have a love-hate relationship with March Madness.
Mostly, I love it. What's not to love about spending three weeks overdosing on college basketball? It's the one time a year when you can sneak a peek at games while working, mostly because your boss is doing the exact same thing.
But actually, there are a few things to not love. There are a few things to hate, in fact. So, with that in mind, here's what I love and hate about March Madness.
I love … that I haven't filled out a bracket in more than a decade. That way I can watch every game and root for good basketball as opposed to rooting for the team that I picked in a bracket. And when a ball is floating through the air at the buzzer, I don't want to have to consult with my brackets before determining if I want it to swish through or rim out.
I hate … your bracket. More specifically, I hate hearing about your bracket. Given the choice of hot pokers in the ear and listening to you drone on about who your Final Four is, I'll take the pokers. Just so you know, no one cares about your bracket except you. They only care about theirs. (Everything you just read also applies to your fantasy football team.)
I love … when brackets are busted. It's awesome when a certain team becomes everyone's cool pick to get the Final Four, then is stunned in the first round. There is something delicious about watching players and coaches walking off the court with that thousand-yard stare and knowing all those saps who picked that team look the same way back on their couches. Just go back and watch the end of the Arizona-Buffalo game.
I hate … when referees go to the monitor to check a replay. Somehow we managed to go like a hundred years without it and got along just fine. Now the last two minutes of an exciting game come to a screeching halt all to look at a replay that is rarely 100 percent conclusive anyway. Let the referees make the calls and move on.
I love … buzzer beaters. Did you see Loyola-Chicago winning on a last-second 3-pointer against Miami? That is what makes March Madness so great. As soon as the ball went through the net, you quickly realize that one team just won the one of the biggest games in their history and the other just saw their whole season and championship dreams snuffed out in a snap.
I hate … that Dick Vitale doesn't call tournament games. Doesn't feel right that the person who loves college basketball more than anyone on the planet doesn't call the biggest games of the year.
I love … Cinderellas. One unexpected run and your legend lives on forever. Just say the names and basketball fans know exactly what it means — George Mason, Florida Gulf Coast, Cleveland State, Valparaiso. And now, we can add UMBC to the list as the ultimate Cinderella.
I hate … too many Cinderellas. One a year is good. If you get too many in one year, you suddenly end up with a crummy Elite Eight matchup, then realize one of the Final Four games is going to end up a lopsided mess.
I love … when a dominant team smacks around a 16-seed. Upsets are cool and all, but it's still nice when one of the best teams in country proves it by pasting some little guy by 30 points.
I hate … the one-and-done rule because we no longer have superstar players staying for three or four years and becoming legends. Today, we don't have Christian Laettner, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Walton, Patrick Ewing or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And, because of it, most of the players in the tournament are ones we've watched, at most, a couple of times.
I love … Sister Jean.
I hate … that I'm not more aware of where certain colleges are located. Like Lipscomb. Is that in upstate New York or just outside of Seattle?
I love … near upsets. Yeah, sometimes is fun to watch a team like Stephen F. Austin scare the stuffing out of a Texas Tech, but it's also good when a team like Tech survives. Higher seeds typically make for better next-round games.
I hate … that I've been brainwashed to stay up until 1 in the morning to care about a game between two teams that I haven't watched all season long. Something tells me that I have to stay up to watch just in case something mad happens. I'm telling you, it's brain-washing. We're conditioned to care about something we shouldn't.
I love … college bands at basketball games. And I also love that the band gets prime seats. Maybe you don't even realize it because it's background noise, but the pep bands are what make college basketball unique.
I hate … that every year at this time, I have to search and search to find truTV on my television.
I love … this time of year.
I hate … that it'll all be over in just two more weeks. After all, there is a lot more to love than hate about March Madness.