March Madness and the emphasis on conference play

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No matter who you are, where you work or what part of the country you’re in, I’m 99 percent sure you fill out a bracket for the big dance, aka the greatest month of the year, March Madness.

Is there a better time of the year than March? People argue that December is the best month; others argue July is, but these people, quite frankly, are wrong. The beautiful month of March flies by in what seems like a few hours because of all the important conference tournaments and then the mac daddy of them all – March Madness.

Work seems to get easier, school feels fun (if you’re watching games on your laptop) and life just looks simpler. Yes I know this is all the opinion of this lowly writer, however, I believe I’m in the norm when it comes down to it.

While the NFL, NBA, MLB and all the other sports leagues try to have a say in the matter, college basketball is one of the best, if not the best, sport to watch in the glorious month of March.

What other sport has five channels dedicated solely to it for an entire month? Yes I know the Olympics do, but let’s be honest, there are a lot of sports in the Olympics that not many actually care to watch, such as curling, ice dancing, cross country skiing, etc.  College basketball on the other hand is established. It’s huge and just keeps getting bigger every year.

There are a lot of different reason’s why people love the college version of basketball, but I believe the main reason is because of the underdog, or that team that comes out of nowhere to shock the world.  Every year it feels like it’s a different team.  Last year was Wichita State and a few years back George Mason was the Cinderella team that everyone was rooting for.

People love a good David and Goliath story. Now how did a team like George Mason, a team nobody knew, or had any idea even existed, get that far in the tournament or even get there in the first place? Conference play.

Conference play in college basketball is the most important aspect of the entire season.  Take this season for example. Michigan looked dead in the water heading into conference play with no big non-conference wins but their great conference play has them projected at a 2-seed as they sit atop arguably the hardest conference in basketball.

Some of the big conferences end up having a battle of attrition, with the top teams essentially eliminating the weaker squads from at-large consideration, and, like the smaller conferences, the champion of the conference tournament receives an automatic bid. That automatic bid ensures a place in the tournament, and, some of the time, a chance at getting a better seed.

Now the little conferences, like the Western Athletic Conference, which UVU competes in, usually only has one sport reserved in the NCAA tournament for the conference tournament champion. While whoever wins the WAC will most likely be a 16-seed, it’s still a great thing to even get in.

There are 347 Division 1 basketball schools in the nation, and they dwindle that down to 68 schools come March. If you do the math, 279 teams don’t make it.  The fact that Utah Valley is in the hunt right now should make you excited and should get you out to the games.  So fellow Wolverines, help cheer on UVU men’s and women’s basketball to a potential first-ever berth in the NCAA tournament before the regular season ends March 7.


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