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ISSUE 119 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/11/2005

Inside the Lines: March, here we come

By Matt Tiano
Sports Editor

Friday, November 11, 2005

For me, the second week in November means just one thing: the beginning of the most eventful, exciting and passion-filled four-and-a-half months of the year. In case you haven'’t guessed, the phenomenon of which I speak is Division I college basketball.

The fun begins with exhilarating non-conference action and culminates with the most popular three-week sporting event of the year: the NCAA Basketball Tournament, more commonly known as “March Madness.”

As an institution, the college game holds an eternal spot in the hearts of sports fans nationwide and for good reason. We turn our televisions to CBS every Saturday afternoon during the winter months because we are infatuated with the gusto of a pep band, the loud student sections showing their school pride and commentator Bill Raftery'’s legendary expression of a well-executed bank shot, “…"and the little kiss off the glass!”"

There really is nothing more satisfying that to watch an amateur player making the extra pass to an open teammate or a team forcing a turnover that becomes an open lay-up on the other end of the floor. In both of these situations, you can imagine the simultaneous release of pent-up emotion as the packed house roars for their favorite school. You simply won’'t find this type of passion in many places, and you certainly won'’t find it in the NBA.

So, you ask, what about the NBA? Aren’t those guys more talented? If you want to watch a slow paced, lethargic, emotionless basketball game, then the NBA is for you. Yes, these guys do have talent, but not in the sense that it makes their teammates better. The NBA is mainly comprised of individuals seeking personal glory rather than team camaraderie. These guys stand around on offense, don'’t make hard cuts and often resemble statues on defense.

This goes without mentioning some NBA players’ well-publicized misbehavior on and off the court. My advice to you is this: Do yourself a favor and tune to the college game instead. You won’t regret it.

The rivalries of the college game are part of what makes the atmosphere so special. Finally, we can consider pride rather than money in sports. These guys want to win, not for monetary incentive but for pride and tradition’s' sake. They have a desire to represent their various institutions with dignity.

For some reason, rivalry games have a penchant for the big-time play. Take, for instance, the Duke-North Carolina game last year. The Blue Devils won a hard-fought game in overtime, but more memorable was the level at which the teams played. In these rivalry games, big shot after big shot seems to find the bottom of the net.

Four months from now, all the action and intrigue will come to a head. During March, it is widely known that worker productivity takes a sharp decline, costing American businesses millions. The reason? Often, the only business being discussed at offices in March is who has the best bracket and who will pull the biggest upset. In what other sporting event does one’'s own occupation become second priority?

However, our love for March Madness goes far beyond filling out brackets and putting $10 in a jar. We love the unpredictability, the unbridled enthusiasm and the heart that these players display not only in March but throughout the entire season.

After all, the college basketball season is comprised of not only “One Shining Moment” (the name of the tournament’s theme song, as performed by Luther Vandross), but many. The long and winding road to college basketball immortality starts this month.

Be sure to come along for the ride.

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