For me March has never been the same since 1983, that’s when there wasn’t a shot clock, the games were only on one channel in the evening, there was no twitter, and the players wore “shorts.” That was the year my dad introduced me to “brackets” and the most fun time of year for a sports fan. The rules were simple, pick your teams all the way through the tournament, pay a quarter for every wrong pick, and winner takes all.
In that tournament, JimmyValvano’s underdog Wolfpack defeated Houston’s “Phi Slamma Jamma” 54-52 when Lorenzo Charles slammed home the only dunk of the game as time expired.
I caught lightning in a bottle in 1985 when I picked unranked and 8th seeded Villanova to upset the field, and win it all, which they did. The Wildcats played the “perfect game” defeating the heavily favored Georgetown Hoyas 66-64. It was at that moment I that I went completely “MAD!”
I pulled off my only other March Madness win in 1987 when Bobby Knight led his #1 ranked Hoosiers to the title, thanks to last second shot by Keith Smart that defeated Syracuse 74-73.
The 1985 Tournament is by far my favorite,and probably the most memorable, but the 2005 tournament willalways has a special place in my heart. That was the year my alma mater the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee reached their only Sweet Sixten! They first defeated #5 ranked Alabama by 10, then #4 Boston College by 8. It was the deepest in the tournament the Panthers have ever been before or since, and it might be awhile before they make it back there again.
That’s been it, I haven’t really been close since, but my love for the tournament continues, because there is always that chance for a great upset, picking the winner, and winning the pool, because ANYTHING can happen!
There’s been plenty of miscues along the way, including my worst tournament ever… 2001! In that campaign I was out before the first weekend when the 25-5, #2 seed Iowa State Cyclones, (the team I picked to win it all) were upset by #15 seed Hampton 58-57. Let’s just say that was a LONG two weeks!
The 26 year streak comes to an end this year, because I know who the winner will be. The winner of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division I tournament will be from the ACC, and the #2 seed out of the East… The Miami Hurricanes!
Coach Jim Larranaga’s ‘Canes will bring their talents and “40 minutes of L” to Austin, D.C., and finally Atlanta where they should cut down the nets April 8th.
Happy Hoops and Merry Madness!