GRIZ GRIT: March Madness

By Beacon Staff

Here we are in the Ides of March – a time of year that a basketball junky waits 11 months to arrive.

I’m positive that somewhere there has been a study to determine how much work time is lost during the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament. And in this time of instant access, where a fan can track the event at every turn, some work just comes to a standstill.

And while there will be no team from Montana, Idaho or even the Dakotas and perhaps just one from Washington competing in the tournament, it will not dull my enthusiasm for filling out a bracket, which are filled out in nearly every office across the country. Prognosticators seek to tab a Cinderella team that wins one or maybe two rounds.

These teams are the elite – the fortunate who have won games either all season or maybe just at the right time to extend their season and be selected for the round of 68. By the time this goes to press, the field will already be winnowed to 64, then quickly to 32 before the weekend.

And for those, like me, who were driven bonkers when CBS turned away from your favorite team because of a commitment to catch the tip of another and left you with just the highlights or maybe buzzer-beating antics at the end, take heart.

With the additional networks involved, a fan can watch a game in its entirety and, with several screens, you can watch endless simultaneous competition until the field is narrowed to your liking.

Did I say I love college hoops? And I’m not so sure the NCAA Tournament is only about athletics.

Perhaps it’s more about the little guy in all of us who just wants an opportunity to show that they’re as capable, or even maybe more so if given a chance, than the next guy up the ladder.

That’s what brings a crowd to cheer for the underdog virtually in any competition and it’s what drives us to pick a Cinderella team like George Mason or Robert Morris to advance in our brackets with victories in early-round matchups. We cheer like adopted alums until the team most likely eventually falls to a higher seed.

I like to wear my Gardner Webb or even Wofford hat, not because I have any affinity or connection to either North Carolina or South Carolina school, but because they were given to me by a dear Terrier fan – I’ll leave it to you to figure out which team is the Terriers – and root for their success whenever they are not playing against a Montana team. That doesn’t happen frequently but, of course, has occurred.

Wofford made the Big Dance for the second consecutive year and former Grizzly guard Cam Rundles recently grabbed a SportsCenter highlight. And while NCAA powers say I can’t participate in any bracket gambling, I’ll track their progress with more than just passing interest.

While Goliath usually prevails, my March is a time for me to watch the little guy throw a stone or two and occasionally make more than just a dent and leave their mark on the greatest sport spectacle.

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