Ah, spring. The time of year when everyone’s fancy turns to…basketball. Around here, anyway. After all, we do live along Tobacco Road, the heartland of basketball country, where March Madness is like an unofficial holiday.
Our brackets are ready and our hopes are high. Since each of the three of us have a little something to share about this matter…
Let’s talk about it!
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Hilary » ACC All the Way
When it comes to March Madness, I have three long-standing beliefs:
1 • I believe in the dominance of the ACC conference. Being the progeny of Volunteer parents, I am excited about the upward swing of the SEC in men’s basketball, but do not talk to me about the awesomeness of the Big Ten or Big 12 and especially not the Pac-12. Because I can’t even.
The ACC is the greatest basketball conference in the nation, hands-down. It’s like what commentator and former NBA player Laphonso Ellis said about the ACC after the Syracuse-Carolina game last week: “This is the biggest, baddest, deepest conference in the country.”
Thus, my belief in ACC dominance causes me to make a break with my fellow Tar Heels in that, for the duration of the tournament, I will cheer for any and all ACC teams.
Yes, even Duke.
Because madness happens here in the ACC all season long. In March it just spreads to the rest of the country.
2 • I believe that ANY GIVEN YEAR Duke or Carolina* could win the entire tournament. ANY GIVEN YEAR.
First of all, it is nearly taken for granted that both teams will get invited to the tournament. Second, it is usually considered an upset when either team doesn’t make it to the Sweet Sixteen. That is how good these teams typically are–but for different reasons.
Duke is a relentless machine, and if the machine doesn’t conk, Duke could always take the title. Even on the rare occasion when Duke does lose, it often does not seem so much to be that another team was actually better but that Duke broke down on its own somehow, that some part of the machine was not quite working properly. Filling out my bracket every year, I always struggle with which team would take Duke out. Duke could beat anybody any given day–but will it be that day?
This is NOT the dilemma I have with my beloved Tar Heels. I can easily envision a loss at any stage of the tournament. Weber State, anyone?
Carolina is not a machine, which means it isn’t very reliable. Carolina could be on fire one game (or half or 5-minute stretch) and then go up in smoke the next. That said, when Carolina is good, it is very, very good–and really hard to beat. Even on a year when the team is not a tournament favorite. Like this one.
3 • I believe that every year the tournament should be organized so that a championship game between Duke and Carolina could be possible.
There are only two words that could describe that dream match-up: EPIC AWESOMENESS. (I’m just not sure I could watch.)
* Though not an ACC team, I also always think Kentucky could win it all every year. Primarily because it can usually just run over teams through sheer power and size.
Marcy » Baller Mom
Since my favorite basketball teams to watch this year have been my oldest son’s JV high school team, my middle son’s Upward team, and my youngest son’s special needs Upward team, I was afraid I would not have too much to offer on this post.
However, since I live in a house with some fellas who love March Madness as much as I love watching them play, I thought it could be fun to share with you their bracket picks. I have given them pseudo-names based on the years I have spent observing their reasoning for picking winners (but if you know my family you can probably imagine who’s who).
The Player Loyalist: This individual in my house will always pick his team based on his favorite players. He knows the players’ names and backgrounds and will choose his fantasy teams or March Madness bracket based on the fondness he has for the players on a particular team.
» PICKS: UNC vs. Virginia in the finals with UNC winning.
The Strategist: This individual knows the game, follows the teams on his ESPN app and will always make his picks based on stats and knowledge.
» PICKS: Michigan State vs. Virginia in the finals with Virginia winning.
The Dukie: This individual will always pick Duke to win, and if Duke does not win it should have and there is a myriad of reasons (excuses) that he will be happy to share with you as to why Duke didn’t win.
» PICKS: Duke vs. Virginia in the finals with Duke winning (Shocker).
Leigh Ann » Wolfpack Born and Raised
Most contemporary NC State fans refer to Jimmy Valvano and the 1983 championship team as the glory days of Wolfpack basketball.
But in 1974, I crouched in front of the television with my parents and siblings and screamed with a mixture of terror and joy as Tommy Burleson, Monte Towe, and David Thompson worked some serious national championship magic.
The sweetness of this memory is anchored by my little brother, barely a year old, looking at us all like we were crazy, and by seeing the intense joy on my dad’s face.
You see, unlike my friends at school, who chose their teams because of the color or the mascot (some silly ram or devil), I bled red because I had the unique privilege of standing beside my dad at his college graduation from State. I was emotionally invested in the team where my hero sacrificed time and money to return to school later in life.
All this to say, while the Wolfpack has my undying loyalty, I am realistic in my tournament expectations. If State still makes the tournament (after crashing and burning in the ACC event), I feel they can make a good run.
Otherwise, I agree with the Tobacco Road expert above, that UNC or Duke are capable of winning any given year. They are that good.
I fully expect the Sweet 16 to include teams like UNC, Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga, Michigan State, and Xavier, and I won’t be surprised to see a North Carolina team (or two) in the final four. Oh, and I really like Virginia to go deep (their coach is a class-act).
Regardless, I will scream at the TV for anyone from the Tar Heel State first, then another ACC team, then any team who conducts themselves like men.
Even teams with that silly ram or devil.
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