It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Forget Christmas, it’s conference championship and NCAA tournament time! Even with the Memphis Tigers needing the benevolence of divine providence to make it into the field of 68 this year, I still love this part of the season. Last weekend and earlier this week, I got to watch some of the small conference championships. These are often more exciting to watch than the power conference tournaments, because you’ve got these one-bid conferences whose tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, usually as a 14, 15 or 16 seed. Most often these teams get smashed by the Kentucky’s and Duke’s of the world, but to watch them compete and celebrate you’d think they’d just won the national championship. I love their enthusiasm. So we’ve got wall-to-wall college hoops through Sunday, then the selection show Sunday evening, then 48 games from next Thursday through Sunday. It’s a basketball fan’s dream, all the upsets and buzzer-beaters, the roller-coaster emotions, watching the brackets slowly fill in. I watched the NCAA tournament starting in 1982, and it has never lost its allure, not even as an adult does it lose its magic.

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