March is the best month of the year. It marks the beginning of spring, the weather starts to warm up, the birds return north and basketball! Basketball dominates any sports-watcher’s mind for the large majority of the month of March—and for good reason. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament started this year on March 15 with Selection Sunday. That gives us 22 days to take in all of the basketball that we could possibly want in the world. The tournament gives us some of the highest-grade basketball that you will likely see all year long, save for the National Basketball Association Finals.
This year, the University of Kentucky Wildcats are looking like the clear-cut favorites with no other teams on their level, which is unfortunate for hardcore basketball fans. At this point the odds for the Wildcats winning this year are sitting at 11-to-10. The odds of them versus the field as a whole are nearly 50-50.
They are 36-0 right now—the best start to a season in college basketball history. They are chasing the elusive 40-0 season. The last team that was able to go undefeated was the 1976 University of Indiana Hoosiers, coached by the legendary Bobby Knight. That team went 32-0, as teams played fewer games back then.
In that sense, the Wildcats are already better on a surface level examination than that Hoosiers team. So let me amend my previous statement: it’s not unfortunate that the Wildcats appear to be clear-cut favorites to win the tournament. The fact that they are chasing history right now is more than enough of a reason to root for them.
Charles Barkley, Verne Lundquist and Marv Albert are just a few of the personalities and color commentators that grace my ears during the tournament. Lundquist and Albert are two of the best commentators out there today and Barkley is just Chuck. He could read the phonebook for an hour and I would find it entertaining. His voice and method of commentary are unparalleled. I’m not one to question his knowledge of the game of basketball, but some of the things that he says are just so bizarre that you can’t help but marvel at him.
One big thing that many people try and do each year is predict the perfect bracket. Thanks to the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Georgia State University—two 14 seeds that upset three seeds—many people’s brackets, mine included, were dead in the water by the end of the first day. But I was strangely ok with that. My brackets hardly ever do well, so I’ve come to expect that they’ll be done by the end of the first weekend and then I can just sit back and enjoy the tournament for what it is: a wonderful showcase of some of the most athletically gifted young men in the country.
The Wildcats have at least five future NBA players on their team. Duke University has at least three and so does the University of Arizona. The raw talent that many of these players put out is mind-boggling and that’s why I watch. I watch out of self-interest––at least at first––but what I care about is talent. And there is no better way to see grade-A talent than March Madness.