Day one of March Madness is in the books and....
Wait. Let’s back up. Today was pretty damn orderly, wasn’t it? Not only were there no upsets, but a quick tally reveals that five of our first six games today ended with double-digit victory margins. The evening’s final four games? All double-digit wins. And among the six sandwiched in between, four more were double-digit wins, with the two close games – at least to me – each dissatisfying in their own way. The A&M-BYU game was ugly (as AW called it on Tuesday, a "race to 60."), while the Duke-Belmont game (admittedly terrific) left a bad taste in the mouth of every fan without a stake in a Duke victory. Had Belmont hung on, it would have been one of those games we all remember for a decade. As is... just another high seed advancing to the weekend.
It’s always tempting to wonder whether a calm like we saw today foreshadows tomorrow’s storm, but we know better. The odds of any one team beating its opponent tomorrow are the same at this moment as they were before today’s games tipped.
As Texas fans, of course, that should be reassuring. Still, as we all know, the beauty of March Madness extends far beyond rooting for our own team’s success. We invest ourselves in the tournament as a whole. We become engrossed with upsets, compelling teams we don’t normally get to watch play, and the drama that necessarily accompanies single-elimination tournaments of this kind. And in the end, few college basketball fans tune out the tourney when their home team is eliminated.
In that sense, today just didn’t give us much of the stuff that causes us to invest in the tournament in the first place. No upsets. And just three close games all day, among which only one was dramatic. The highlight game between USC and Kansas State was a quality basketball game to watch, but even there, one team was better enough on this particular day to preclude an exciting finish to the contest.
But... with all that said, days like today always motivate me to try and focus on the potential upside; namely, that when all the higher seeded teams advance there’s a potential payoff in high quality match ups between the nation’s best teams. A Cinderella is irresistible, but in her absence, a showdown among the teams everyone considered to be the year’s best is nothing in which to be disappointed.
And anyway, Texas is still alive...
Update [2008-3-21 2:21:31 by HornsFan]: I was so buried yesterday that I didn't get around to reading this until just now, but the timing is perfect: Card Chronicle with a post on the tournament I couldn't like more. Go. Read.