March 15, 2006

America's Tournament: Dan Wetzel: "For three weeks you can forget about your big-market, big-city, big-revenue pro sports. The beauty of the NCAA tournament is that even someone like the little Albany Great Danes has a chance -- albeit the chance of a 16th seed about to play Connecticut, which means, what, a one in a million chance? According to USA Today, try one in a sextillion. So you're saying there's a chance. "

posted by scottypup to basketball at 09:43 AM - 11 comments

I don't know. The qualities that he cites as making this tourney so special also seem to make it very forgettable. The fact that there are so many unknown teams from so many places means that it's difficult to maintain any sort of emotional attachment to the play—and emotional attachment is what drives our passion for sport. I mean, sure it's cute that the Albany Great Danes have a theoretical chance at winning a first-round game, but even if they do, who's going to remember it? The only way it becomes truly memorable is if they make the finals: and the chances of that happening are so unbelievably small that the whole warm-and-fuzzy anything-can-happen feelings seem a little over-the-top. But then again, I'm not American. No other sport enjoys this kind of diversity. Doesn't the FA Cup tournament start out like this, with minor-league regional teams playing Premier League behemoths in the early going? (I could be wrong.)

posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:06 PM on March 15, 2006

Well most of us have a favorite team that is in. But the thing that makes the entire tournament exciting to me is the other games. Rooting for the 11-16 team that got in, rooting against your hated team (duke). For me in the NFL playoffs for instance I follow my team and could care less about the other games really. None are real underdogs. But the tournament I watch every game I can. I'd watch all 63 if I could.

posted by scottypup at 12:27 PM on March 15, 2006

DrJohn - there is very strong emotional attachment in the NCAA tournament. It's primarily based upon a significant number of fans pulling for the underdog (with a possible combined hatred for some of the big-name programs). And, even if you don't care about either of the teams, eevryone just wants to see good basketball - and an unknown low seed beating a big name is major news that will last. I disagree whole-heartedly ... If Albany beats UConn - even if Albany loses their next game by 30 points - everyone who gives a fig about college hoops will care a great deal and will remember that for a very long time. Look at Syracuse ... no-one will particularly remember if they get beat by Texas A&M ... but last year, I promise you there are plenty of folks that remember Vermont beating them.

posted by littleLebowski at 12:35 PM on March 15, 2006

I can still remember watching the Richmond Syracuse game in 1991 when Richmond became the first #15 to win a game. I am a fan of neither team.

posted by scottypup at 12:39 PM on March 15, 2006

This NCAA tournament I think that Duke will be another dissapointment. They are always the favorite but they always end up ;osing.

posted by nyknicksfan92 at 03:48 PM on March 15, 2006

I am rooting for every underdog it just makes it more fun. Plus I never been to a real college. (New Jersey City University is DIII it doesn't qualify.) I just want to see some one different win it. And where is Kentucky? I love rooting against them!

posted by Robb Dubbs at 06:56 PM on March 15, 2006

I wonder if people take bets on the 1 vs 16 games? It is bound to happen eventually and even if you only put a little bit down, you'd probably make out great... *off to find a bookie*

posted by Net Detours at 09:14 PM on March 15, 2006

And then watch Disney try to obtain the rights to make the movie...

posted by chemwizBsquared at 09:25 PM on March 15, 2006

Cheering for the underdog (and your favorite team) is what it is all about. The college game beats the pros hands down for enthusiasm.

posted by Taimaishu at 04:35 AM on March 16, 2006

Doesn't the FA Cup tournament start out like this, with minor-league regional teams playing Premier League behemoths in the early going? (I could be wrong.) Sort of. In some ways, the FA Cup is an even purer knockout tournament, since there's no 'seeding' as such, apart from different divisions entering the competition at different stages. If you're a non-league team, you have to play in 'qualifying rounds' in order to get to the 'first round proper', when the lower division league teams enter. And the best weekend in English football is still the 3rd round of the FA Cup in January, when the top two divisions join the competition. (The first round of Wimbledon has a similar character, but as an individual sport, giant-killing doesn't quite have the same appeal.) It's a testament, I suppose, to the amount of manipulation that takes place in the big US professional sports to ensure a degree of balance across the franchises. And you shouldn't discount the nationwide reach: something that the big leagues don't have.

posted by etagloh at 11:28 PM on March 16, 2006

Plus, what basketball fan can argue with the opportunity to watch what 12 basketball games in one day for the next 3 weeks?? Granted the number dwindles, but as that happens, they get more exciting (unless of course, duke is dominating, ick)!! But the one thing this tournament certainly doen't lack is passion. These boys are out there *forgive the cliche* for the love of the game. They aren't raking in millions for every free throw. They don't strike when there aren't enough zero's, or they aren't getting enough love from their coach. They love the game, and we love them for that. I would argue that this sporting event is passion.

posted by skibum0902 at 01:14 PM on March 17, 2006

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