Sixty-five teams, three weeks, endless empty brackets and countless hours watching all the action. Bubble talk and tournament resumes are old news -- about 800 student-athletes are living the dream and I couldn’t be more excited to break down the brackets, choose my picks, and watch March Madness unfold.
The NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, in my opinion, could be the greatest single elimination tournament ever created. Held each spring featuring 65 basketball teams, it takes place over 3 weeks at sites across the U.S., and the national semifinals (the Final Four) have become one of the nation's most prominent sports events.
Since its 1939 inception (thanks to Kansas University's Phog Allen), it has evolved into the multi-billion enterprise of today that has built a legacy that includes dynasty teams and dramatic underdog stories.
Perhaps the most notable underdog story to date took place last year; George Mason, a commuter school in suburban Virginia, had never won a single game in the NCAA tournament until they reached the Final Four. Seeded 11th in their quarter of the field, George Mason was the first team since 1986 to be slated that low and reach the Final Four. They were arguably the biggest outsider — no basketball tradition to speak of, not a member of a major conference, no superstar player — since Ivy League school Penn made it in 1979.
As of now, I have Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, and UCLA in the Final Four. My vote for most likely to have a George-Mason-type-run this year is Holy Cross, coming in with the 13th seed. Who do you think this year's Cinderella team might be?
(Photo provided by Getty Images/taken by Elsa)