What is it about a classic single elimination basketball tournament, that seems to captivate the masses?
With the Utah boys and girls high school basketball tournaments in the books, March Madness is about to get underway as well as the countless conference tournaments leading up to the "big dance." Basketball fans across the nation are in the midst of a basketball bliss that can only be describe as tournament time.
As BYU and Weber State wrap up their regular seasons, both teams are looking for impressive showings in their respective conference championships to help make their case to the "basketball gods," more commonly known as the tournament selection committee, that they deserve a place in the nation's most exciting postseason, the NCAA Tournament.
Again, what is it about these win-or-go-home games that get our blood flowing and glue us to the edge our seat year after year?
Basketball, much unlike the NFL or college football, has a much longer regular season where a single loss will not eliminate you from postseason excellence. As an avid sports and basketball devotee, I can't say that I typically enjoy the entire duration of an NBA regular season contest.
Even the NBA's postseason can be repetitive, allowing up to four potential "series-ending" games. While year after year it seems as though the best team in the league tends to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy at the seasons end. Where's the fun in that?
When it comes to night in and night out suspense, the NCAA just does tournament basketball justice. Couple this win or go home atmosphere with an any team can win on any given night attitude, and you've got one of the best postseason environments sports has to offer. High school sports follow this same formula. And it's a good thing they do.
Where's the excitement in Duke running away with the title year in and year out? When March comes around, humble teams like Butler or VCU tend to take on a "nobody told us that we couldn't win?" attitude toward each new challenge. The mystery. The suspense. That is what makes these tournaments transcend all others.
These high school and collegiate teams pour months and years into building programs to compete for region/state championships or a national title. This effort and dedication is almost palpable as you watch these student athletes leave it all on the floor.
Seniors come into each and every game knowing it could be their last time putting on that jersey and representing their program.
CBS's annual presentation of "One Shining Moment," immediately following the NCAA tournament, helps to capture these athletes' desire for success. It may not be possible to capture the raw emotion attached to this historic tournament, but this song sure gets close.
This mentality is why we will tune in every night to watch players we have never heard of before, on teams with mascots like the Catamounts (Vermont), from conferences we didn't know existed, to see if they can eliminate a perennial powerhouse like the Duke Blue Devils.
What a great time to be a basketball fan. Enjoy it.