For sports fans all over the country, from the mildly enthused to the passionately insane, the NCAA tournament brings the ultimate excitement in sports theater. Despite the lack of a legitimate underdog that thrived in years past, this year has been no less exciting. The overall theme of previous tournaments has been a ‘David versus Goliath’ angle — pitting the smaller schools against the giants of the game. Yet this year is different. Much to the chagrin of many tournament faithful, the NCAA selection committee matched most of the mid-major teams together in the first round, making it impossible for there to be a saturation of lower seeded teams taking on the big boys of the tournament. Though the Cinderella possibility disintegrated within the first few rounds, the higher seeds rolled continually round after round. As a result, the elite eight was stacked with the predictable high ranking teams, including four number one seeds, three number two’s and the lowest seed being a three. Many people believe that the lack of the “surprise” teams involved lowers the excitement in the final stages of the tournament, but for the more hardcore sports fan, the battle of the titans style elite eight could be as epic as any ever. The high level of basketball that is played amongst the higher seeds has the possibility of being just as exciting (if not more so) than a cinderella team upsetting a giant.
A high ranking elite eight can only mean a high ranking national champion, which is essentially what the national champion is supposed to be. Though 13-16 seeds would ignite a frenzy of excitement in the final four, much like George Mason did a year ago. Having the final stages of the tournament loaded with the highest ranked teams in the country makes for some high quality basketball, and a high caliber champion.
What makes the NCAA tournament truly great is not the lower seeds moving on, or the higher seeds self-destructing, but the drama of the games themselves. The second the ball is tipped into the air, all rankings go out the window and it is the situations in the game that make or break a team of any rank. This makes March Madness the most entertaining time of the year in sports because on any given game night a legend could emerge and a hero made, and it’s these situations and champions that become remembered — not what the team was ranked with to start.