It is clear, no matter what changes are made to the NCAA tournament field, the product on the floor remains consistent. As the tournament field expanded from 64 to 68 teams in two years, not many knew what to expect with the addition of the First Four or the first round games.
When many considered these games more of the play-in style, the end result still felt like the Big Dance. Last gasp efforts and buzzer-beating shots ushered in March Madness.
Of course, the upsets did not take long to surface. Unless, of course, you predicted Virginia Commonwealth University to beat the mighty USC Trojans.
Even so, the minority predicted the Morehead State Eagles to pull off the unthinkable upset of Louisville. Better yet, Virginia Commonwealth continued their hot streak and beat Georgetown and Purdue by 36 combined points, on their way to the Sweet 16.
The glamorous last second triumphs have continued to be prominent in March Madness. After all, that is what makes the Big Dance adored by fans across the entire country.
Last year, Butler University wore Cinderella’s glass slipper, until the Duke Blue Devils ended their tournament run like many others before. However, the Butler Bulldogs are not a one-hit wonder. Brad Stevens’ squad is battle tested from last season’s tournament, and thus far, has survived two games by three points.
Butler beat Old Dominion on a last-second layup by Matt Howard, and again, Howard saved the Bulldogs from elimination with a free throw against top-seeded Pittsburgh.
This year’s tournament has delivered all the excitement, improbable upsets and heart-stopping moments. In all actuality, the tournament field is still represented in all forums.
Perennial powerhouse programs and championship favorites like Duke, Ohio State, Connecticut, Kentucky and North Carolina are still alive. Fans that pull for David, rather than Goliath, still have hope with the aforementioned Butler Bulldogs and the VCU Rams, as well as, the Richmond Spiders.
The NCAA tournament truly allows any school across the country an opportunity to win the national championship. Unlike Division 1-A college football, computer rankings do not determine who squares off for all the marbles.
One player, one team and one community can rally and ride the wave of momentum all the way to the Final Four in Houston.
By that time, there are sure to be plenty more upsets and drama-filled moments to solidify the field.
Undoubtedly, someone’s shoulders will grow heavy from the pressure of the moment. However, March Madness rewards legendary performances.
Each year, one player, one team rises above the rest and carries their school to victory. At this point, anything can happen, and no one knows who will have that “one shinning moment.”