Call it fortune, call it mystique, but at the end of the day, it discovers a way to routinely set the stage where some of the finest moments in collegiate basketball are stamped in history.
March Madness has arrived.
The experts themselves are more aware than anyone of the tournament’s ability to shame the most profound aficionado by proving year after year no favorite is safe.
Win or go home. The concept can forcefully remove the chip from any team’s shoulder, and without fail. Case in point, the 2014 Connecticut Huskies.
After going 20-14 during the regular season, the Huskies entered the NCAA tournament as the seventh seed in the East and soon found themselves face to face with resident Big East conference champion Villanova.
While the matchup seemed simple enough, Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier refused to take the predictions lying down. And 25 points later, Napier and his teammates achieved what statistics called impossible and upset the No. 2 seed to go on and take the NCAA title.
Fast forward to 2015 and just like that, the Cinderella Huskies find themselves unable to punch a ticket to the “Big Dance.” Call it fortune, call it mystique, or just acceptance that the madness always finds a way to come out on top.
Coming into this year, the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats plowed through the regular season with hardly a scratch, painting a target on their back as the program to dethrone. But can it be done?
The Wildcats hold the prestige of being the winningest Division I basketball program, as well as leading the NCAA in most tournament appearances with 54.
Records and percentages all pointing in favor of Big Blue Nation are being tested by more than one program looking to make a mark of their own in the tournament history books.
After wrapping the regular season at 29-4, the legacy of Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils find themselves again seeded among the top faces in the tournament. Coach K is no stranger to the pressures of tournament play and has proven this by leading the Blue Devils to not one, but 11 trips to the Final Four.
Not to be outdone, one program to watch could very well prove to be Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin Badgers, who closed out the year with a mere three losses under head coach Bo Ryan.
Also, anyone remember a little program by the name of Wichita State? If anyone could give the freight train of Kentucky a run for its money, don’t be too surprised if the Shockers pull an upset of their own.
While the legacy may not run as deep for some of the freshest tournament faces, it’s simple — March is the time of year where brackets go to die, predictors on all levels are left dumbfounded and those who claim to know the routines of the tournament are left at a loss for words.
March is unpredictable. Call it fortune, call it mystique, call it what you will.
You can’t script this time of year and fans around the nation wouldn’t have it any other way.
Emily Waldon was raised in Howard City and currently resides in Wyoming, Mich. A lifelong tography, traveling and bringing a fresh outlook to the world of athletics, both collegiate and professional. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.