Some people have birthday parties. Others have Christmas morning. I have March Madness.
I love this time of the year—always have. I know of many people who would tell you that March is actually one of their least favorite months. Can you believe that?
I understand their reasoning. The weather teases you. It could reach 70 degrees one day, only to snow two feet the next. There are no paid days off, and there are 31 days in the month.
Although I get where many of them are coming from, that is not the case if you are a big college basketball fan. How could it be?
And this may be the best college basketball postseason of all time, especially to park yourself in front of a television to watch the games.
So why is this year different from any other? I could go on for days about this, but that would interrupt my television viewing—which I simply cannot allow to happen—but I will do my best to explain why more people may be calling in sick to work than ever!
The Big East Conference is allowing 16 teams to participate in this year's conference tournament. Because of that, it begins on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.
In year's past, I would not get quite as excited about some of the early afternoon matchups in the tournament. How interesting is a Depaul vs. South Florida game?
This year is different. The Connecticut Huskies play on Day One, and they were recently ranked in the Top 25 polls. The Villanova Wildcats also play tonight, and they were also recently ranked.
Sure, Seton Hall does take on Rutgers this afternoon. But it is still a meaningful game on a Tuesday afternoon.
Can you top that?
So many talented freshmen are likely to play important roles in this year's Conference and NCAA Tournament. Whether it is their final audition for NBA teams, or just the start of a great collegiate career, these games are huge for the kids.
Harrison Barnes got all of the preseason hype by being named as a preseason All-American, and while he has knocked down so many big shots for the North Carolina Tar Heels, he is not alone in this elite class.
Jared Sullinger is doing everything possible to help the Ohio State Buckeyes try and lock down the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Tristan Thompson has the Texas Longhorns back toward the top of the Big 12, and his amazing play will be evident for the Conference and NCAA Tournament.
If that is not enough for you, check out Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones of the Kentucky Wildcats.
This is a special class.
If you are unfamiliar with his play, then you have missed an outstanding performance.
Jimmer Fredette of the BYU Cougars has been one of the best stories this season.
Although they are unlikely to earn a No. 1 seed, especially following the dismissal of one of their best players, Fredette is a scoring machine.
He is not just a scorer—he can shoot, pass and drive to the hoop.
If you don't know him yet, you will after next week.
Who will surprisingly make the NCAA Tournament? Who gets left out in the cold after a great season? Who gets what seed and on what day?
We will find out that and more this coming Sunday.
As always, there will be one or two teams who do not hear their name called. Their bubble will burst.
Other teams will get the announcement that will take away a spot from a team who many people felt were more deserving.
Quite frankly, that does not matter to me. Teams have over 30 games in the season to secure a berth. If you beat the good teams but lose badly to the awful ones, are you more deserving than a team who beats the bad teams but plays against lesser competition?
That is all up to the committee.
We all know that Seth Greenberg has been saying this for years as the head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies.
As of now, they are right on the edge of that dreaded bubble.
It seems that many people feel as if the Big East Conference will get 11 teams into the NCAA Tournament, but in the words of the great Lee Corso...
...not so fast, my friend.
They will get more teams in than any other conference. It probably won't be close.
We will be treated to Ben Hansbrough of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Kemba Walker of the Connecticut Huskies, Austin Freeman of the Georgetown Hoyas and Dwight Hardy of the St. John's Red Storm.
But to play devils' advocate, if the Villanova Wildcats lose to the South Florida Bulls in Round One, are they still a lock? They have been going the wrong way for a long time now.
What if the Marquette Golden Eagles drop a game to the Providence Friars tonight? Will their dance card still be punched?
Nobody knows for sure, but the stars from the Big East will be shining brightly.
If you like the perennial power houses in the NCAA Tournament, then this is the year for you.
The Kansas Jayhawks are looking to get back into the Final Four. The Duke Blue Devils are looking to defend their title.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are back after a year off from the big dance. They are reloaded and poised to make a run.
The Kentucky Wildcats are strong. The Syracuse Orangemen are dangerous with their outside shooting.
The Wisconsin Badgers still play shutdown defense. Steve Lavin has the St. John's Red Storm back in the rankings.
This is a great year no matter who you root for. This season has something for everyone.
Well, almost everyone.
We are going from 65 to 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament. It doesn't sound like much, but now the play-in game will not take place with two of the worst teams.
The actual first round will have four games and some decent teams with a great fan base will now play next Tuesday.
Also, the tournament is expanding on the air as well.
CBS will not air the games exclusively. They will share with their other networks, including TBS, TNT and TRUTV.
That means that every channel will air games during every time slot in the beginning few days. Basically, everyone can watch their team play. No more checking the computer. No more watching those little scores rotate toward the top of your television screen.
This will be unprecedented.
Everyone knows what brackets mean.
You fill them out with the chance to win a ...
...well, gambling is illegal, so perhaps you play for cookies?
But joking aside, do you pick with your heart or your head?
Are you looking to see the best teams advance, or do you fill them out by who you root for to win?
Or do you pick the school further in the south? Or the north?
Do you choose by color? What about mascot?
Either way, most of the country will be filling them out from next Monday through early Thursday morning.
Who will be in your Final Four?
How far will Cinderella dance?