March Madness: The Greatest Show on Earth

Gene ZarnickCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2010

Ladies and Gentleman! Boys and Girls! Children of all ages!

Favre Dollar Footlongs is proud to introduce to you March Madness; the greatest show on Earth!  The time has finally come for all of us to experience the four greatest days in all of sports as 64 teams vie to be part of the sweet sixteen teams remaining after Sunday.  We all have our reasons for loving it, but there is only one way to truly experience March Madness; that's by seeing it in person.

There is nothing like attending the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  I don't care about the Super Bowl, Game 7 of the World Series, or any other sporting event; nothing compares to those first four days.  It's almost hard to explain exactly what makes it so special to be a part of, but I'll try my best by conveying to you my first March Madness experience.

I've always been a Duke fan from a young age.  If you've read other columns of mine then you probably realized my bias in favor of them.  Anyways, three years ago, I was sitting in front of my television on Selection Sunday, getting ready to fill out my bracket, and the perfect scenario happened; Duke was going to be playing in Buffalo, NY.

I'm from Erie, PA, so Buffalo is only about an hour and a half away; I knew I had to attend the game between Duke and VCU.  I immediately went to hunt down tickets on eBay and got a pair for Sessions 1 and 2.  My father and I drove to the HSBC Arena, not really too excited about the first couple games, but I still wanted to attend them just to experience the whole first day of the tournament.  Much to my surprise, my thoughts on the first two games changed greatly.

The first game was Butler versus Old Dominion.  This was probably one of the first times that Butler was finally getting some credibility.  The game went back and forth throughout and it was a pretty solid game to watch.  Butler definitely had some great players that helped them win and move to the next round.

Following the Butler/ODU game was the game that made me understand what March Madness was all about.  We had #4 Maryland going up #13 Davidson in what seemed like a very boring game.  The game started off kind of slow with Maryland taking the lead early on.  Davidson started to fight back a little thanks to an outstanding freshman named Stephen Curry.  I watched some games of Davidson earlier in the year so I knew of Curry's potential, but what he did that day was astonishing.  He kept his team in the game.  Big bucket after big bucket he kept on hitting shots.  Finally at the end of the game, with Davidson losing by double digits, Curry got his 30th point of the game and was finally removed.  The entire arena, even Maryland fans, stood up to give a freshman, on a completely outmatched basketball team, a rousing standing ovation that he definitely deserved.

I was on a high after that game.  I left for a few hours and came back for the next session ready for my Blue Devils to beat up on Virginia Commonwealth.  Duke wasn't that great in 2007.  We only had a #6 seed so I knew there was a chance for a close game.  I won't go into all the details because I don't really need to relive those moments, but I think we all remember the upset.  With seconds remaining Eric Maynor hit the jumper in the key to give VCU the lead and they knocked Duke out of the first round of the NCAA tournament in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.

I was distraught.  I really couldn't believe what I just saw with my own eyes.  I didn't even stay for the last game of the night between Pittsburgh and Wright State.  I just went from seeing one of the greatest performances in an NCAA game to seeing one of the biggest upsets that was a shot to the heart.  That's what March Madness is all about though.

When I left for Buffalo to attend the tournament three years ago I didn't know what I was about to see.  I only had a rooting interest in seeing Duke play.  What I realized while I was there was that the experience takes over you.  Attending the Super Bowl or the Master's would be a great experience, but I don't think they could compare to the first two rounds of the tournament.  It's an event that you can walk into, knowing nothing, and come out of it with a since of euphoria.  You don't need to know who to root for because as the game goes on you will feel who you should root for.  It is a special experience.  It's different to all, but special to all.  I had the best time of my life and the worst time of my life in the same day and after some reflection I wouldn't change it one bit.

I will be going back to Buffalo on Friday to attend the NCAA tournament.  This time Duke won't be there so the heartache won't be in front of my face if they somehow get upset by Arkansas Pine-Bluff.  Instead I will be experiencing six games that I have no rooting interest for, but six games that I am extremely looking forward to.  I don't know what to expect, I don't know who to root for, and I don't care.  Maybe #1 seed Syracuse will be upset by #16 seed Vermont.  Maybe all the games will be blowouts.  It doesn't really matter to me, because I know there will be special moments that I experience throughout the weekend.

That's why March Madness is the greatest show on Earth!