March Madness is here / Aaron Johnson
For many across the state it has been difficult to watch men’s basketball to say the least. To put it nicely, the state of the UConn men’s program has left much to be desired.
Which is what has ultimately cost former coach Kevin Ollie his job. As a lifelong college basketball watcher, the past several seasons have been trying to watch due to the ineptitude of the Huskies.
Thank the heavens for the women.
But when it comes to March and its yearly madness, the feeling has been far from the same since there really is no team to hang my hat on.
UConn sucks. No need to put it nicely anymore. But thankfully changes are on the way.
As those changes begin to get put in the works, the madness still goes on. This season is coming into the home stretch with probably the best tournament south of Mohegan.
The teams. The coaches. The players.
March brings something that no other sporting event — save the Olympics and Super Bowl — bring to the country. For a collection of about three weeks, college basketball is king.
People that have never watched a moment of college basketball all season will tune in for the tournament. It is the end all be all of college athletics.
Even more than football and it’s multi-million dollar bowls games.
College basketball and the NCAA tournament have created an environment and an opportunity for amazing sports memories, crushing defeats, and inspirational story lines that make people like me drool over.
For years, those memories and stories were easy because of the greatness of the Huskies men’s program. But in the women’s game, that level of domination and prestige was never gone away.
While the men seem to be treading water, the women’s team has continuously made Nutmeggers around the world beam with pride and bragging rights.
And why wouldn’t you?
The UConn women have to be one of the most dominate programs ever and are the single most in the women’s game. Since the departure of the beloved Hartford Whalers, there has not been an organization, program, or even a single school that has meant more to the state than the women’s UConn basketball team.
As they look to get back to the crown, they provide another opportunity to inspire a state.
UConn are the favorites heading into the women’s tournament, but as the men tip off play this weekend. Offices and employees race to fill their collective brackets — myself included.
Every since running my own pool in high school, I’ve always enjoyed the tournament much more when I have a rooting interest in every game — even those not involving the Huskies.
Having a horse in the race across the board is what really brings this tournament from being a spectators sport, to allowing those watching to become invested.
I’ve never won a tournament pool. I’ve never even come close. Even last season, I believe I finished in the top seven or eight of the Hearst Connecticut pool.
But that doesn’t stop me from filling one out, it doesn’t stop anyone.
Brackets being busted is all apart of the fun.
Growing up, it was always about UConn. Watching some of my favorite players in Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Caron Butler, and Kemba Walker — guys that would go on to play in the NBA — was the highlight for me. But as I got older and was able to become more investing, in not only UConn, but the tournament as a whole. That is where the real joy that March brings began.
I look forward to when the calendar changes, although I’m not a big fan of the hour springing forward.
But when March comes around, it becomes time for something special. It becomes time for the magic that this tournament brings to everyone that has the opportunity to watch.
Whether it was in my high school classes, or first thing I did coming out of college classes, or even the last thing I do before I head off to cover a game.
This tournament is a treat for anyone that loves college basketball, but it is also a treat to those that have no idea what a jump-shot is.
The inclusivness that March brings is as interesting as the madness — it can be amazing and it can be fun. But most importantly, it is the best time of the year for anyone that has the opprotunity to tune in and watch.
So, good luck in your brackets and if your school is in the tournament — good luck to them.
But for all of us watching, sit back and enjoy.
Hopefully the women bring home another title to Connecticut, and maybe the men can get back there again soon.
ct.com; Twitter: @aronJohnson_