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Enjoy the madness

For fans of college basketball, the last 67 games of the season hold the greatest amount of interest.

That’s the number of games that will be played in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Fans in the Tri-State Area saw few surprises when the 68-team field was revealed Sunday evening. As expected, two of our region’s teams — Ohio State and West Virginia– earned a spot in the tournament. Ohio University, meanwhile, played its way into March Madness by rolling through the Mid-American Conference tournament and claiming the title.

Like most things in our lives, this year’s NCAA tournament will have a different look, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the 2020 event to be canceled. Unlike previous years, where the first several rounds of the tournament were staged at various locations around the country before the semifinalists headed to the site of the Final Four, all of the games in this year’s tournament will be played in Indianapolis, with the finals set for April 5.

All three of our region’s teams are scheduled to open play this weekend. Ohio State will meet Oral Roberts at 3 p.m. Friday, WVU will face Morehead State at 9:50 p.m. Friday and Ohio will meet Virginia at 7:15 p.m. Saturday.

While those pairings are good for the dedicated fans of the Buckeyes, Mountaineers and Bobcats, supporters of other Division I teams from our region won’t have as much to cheer about — this year’s tournament will be without Pitt, Penn State and Robert Morris.

Then again, the lack of a specific team to follow might not have that much of an impact on whether fans choose to follow the games, according to a recent March Madness Report prepared by Challenger, Gray and Christmas. The Chicago-based global outplacement and executive coaching firm has calculated that time spent watching tournament games during work hours could cost employers as much as $13.3 billion.

But spending all of the time on basketball might not be such a bad thing after all. Employers and employees say that following the action can help to boost morale and build camaraderie.

So, sit back and have fun while watching the games, and we hope you made some good choices when you filled out your brackets.

March Madness has arrived.

Enjoy.

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