Beware the Madness of March

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Sports Editor

Okay folks, it’s official, as of 12:00:01 a.m. this morning you have the right to go completely insane. Of course all of you in that condition in the first place, this is your chance to fit right in with the rest of us!

What the heck is this silly guy babbling about now you ask? In the words of the wonderful Dickey V ­ "IT’S MARCH MADNESS BABY!" And as far as I’m concerned, this month is dedicated to all you sports fanatics out there like myself. And if anyone gets between you and the television in the coming months I think there’s a case that could be made for justifiable homicide.

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Isn’t it great? March has got to be my favorite of all the months. Forget the Holiday season or the sunny summer months, March is the greatest for one fact and one fact only, it’s the NCAA College Basketball Tournament baby and there isn’t a greater sporting event on the planet as far as I’m concerned.

You put 64 teams in one bracket and give them each the same ultimatum ­ If you can win five straight games you will be crowned basketball gods. Lose one and you go home.

This year the city of Troy and all you Troy State fans have a bigger reason to be excited than usual. There is a good chance that the Troy State Trojans could win that automatic bid appointed to the Trans American Athletic Conference Tournament champs.

Granted the Trojans by no means have the thing sealed up. They still have to win three straight games against some very tough conference competition, but they are the No. 1 seed in the tourney and if money was to be wagered I’m willing to bet they would be the favorites right now.

TSU head coach Don Maestri talked about the tournament, and the month of March recently. He also showed signs of how exciting it is to actually be in the position he and his squad find themselves in now and by the grin on the coach’s face you could tell he’s eating all this up with a spoon and asking for seconds.

"To me it’s one of the most exciting times of the year when you get the selection of the 64 teams that are going to be in the NCAA Tournament," Maestri said. "If it wasn’t it wouldn’t be in every office in the country in a little thing called an office pool. Those 64 names, even folks who don’t follow basketball will see the names because they’re going to put up a dollar. Everyone always looks forward to March Madness, they all look forward to little pools. It is a major event and people have the right to get excited."

Maestri went on to make a very good point as well. If they are lucky enough to win the TAAC Tournament and receive the automatic bid, the Trojans will be the first team to be assured a berth in the tournament because the TAAC tourney is the first to be played.

Just think about every person across this country that fills in a bracket every year, basketball fan or no, seeing Troy State in the running.

Right now, ESPN has a mock bracket posted on their web site showing what it would look like if the tourney started tomorrow. It had the Trojans drawing a 16 seed and facing off against a No. 1 seeded Arizona in the first round at the South Region site held in Birmingham. Could you imagine the Trojans playing in Birmingham? What a great home-field advantage that would be.

Of course I’ve never seen one of these predictions that came close to what the actual brackets will look like, but I think a 16 or 15 seed for whoever the TAAC champions might be is probably about right. Just the thought gives me goose pimples though.

Unlike any other sporting event in the world, the coming weeks will highlight a chance for complete nobodies to become the Cinderellas of the big dance. Teams will pull huge upsets of ranked opponents as the numbers are whittled down to the final four.

Year after year there are daily last second shots, overtime thrillers and unexpected heroes in the Tournament. We’ll see 63 games that define what college sports are all about.

Here’s to hoping that Troy State can experience the Madness of March up close and personal and that you the fans enjoy all the craziness to come.