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This March has been maddening

March 24, 2013
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

This is in no way about the very un-spring-like weather, even though it's almost April.

Nope, it's about basketball.

While I have well documented my lack of athleticism and boredom with most sports in this column over the years, there are certain times where I do pay some attention to what's going on on the courts and fields across the country.

This is one of those times, with the NCAA tournaments - otherwise known as March Madness - rolls around. Conference championships always show some good matchups, and then lead into the NIT and the national championship.

This is the time where the best of the best, or maybe the luckiest of the lucky, go out onto the national stage and show everyone their winning ways.

I mention luck, because, with anything else, possibly even more than anything else, the NCAA championship is the place where sometimes purely being lucky is all a team needs to get there.

After all, who would ever think a Davidson or North Carolina A&T could ever compete against a UCLA or a Kansas? But, there they are, or were anyway.

My sister has actually been paying more attention to the hoops action the last few years than I have. Well, OK, maybe not all of the action, but she continues to cheer on the West Liberty Hilltoppers as they make their way through Division II tournaments.

They'll be going to Louisville this week, by the way, hopefully getting another win and heading toward a national championship.

March Madness also is a time where even those who aren't sports fans can find a way to get involved.

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people fill out brackets in the days leading up to the start of the tournament.

Some do it for fun. Some make a friendly competition out of it. Others actually put down some money in the hopes of winning it all.

I don't make it a habit to bet on sports. I've done a few fantasy baseball leagues, and for a couple of years some coworkers put together some brackets. The result there? The last-place person had to buy the winner lunch.

For the most part, though, I fill in some brackets just for fun. As I said, I don't like to bet on sports, and, quite frankly, I can't afford to do it.

I look on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and probably close to half are discussions on "bracketology," with people discussing where their brackets stand in comparison with everyone else who has filled out one on that particular system.

I've never really done well in the few times I've taken part, and given how little attention I pay to college basketball throughout the season, that is for good reason.

It's an exciting time though, with some of the biggest games of the year taking place.

These are matchups we wouldn't normally see except for on this particular stage.

You normally wouldn't see teams from the Big East face off against someone from the PAC-12, for example. But here, it could happen.

Each conference and each area of the country has a different style of play, influenced by history and tradition, combined with the knowledge of its coaches.

You might have a team full of 3-point shooters one place and a group of brawlers in another.

There are the perennial favorites who usually get pretty far in, and there are the Cinderella stories - those teams who come out of nowhere and surprise everyone with a major upset.

This is the time of year where anything can happen and the winner could be anyone's guess.

By the way, thank you Wisconsin and Notre Dame for completely obliterating my Western bracket. And, who would have seen Florida Gulf Coast even in the tournament, let alone having such a big win?

Thankfully, I didn't have any money on the line... Not that I make it a habit to bet on sports.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

 
 

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