Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness Tips Off

Sweet 16 celebration -- win over LSU. 2002.

  March -- it's arguably the best time of the year. Some might say Christmas or summer is their favorite, but for those of us who love hoops, March Madness takes the cake. For three weeks, college basketball takes center stage and hijacks your TVs, computers, Facebook statuses, and Twitter feeds. And frankly, there's nothing better.

  I was fortunate enough to play in three NCAA tournaments while at Colorado (with trips to the Elite Eight and a Sweet 16 on the resume). And sure, there were plenty of highs and lows -- with emotions riding high, and stakes just as high -- there were bound to be some memorable moments.

First half vs. Oklahoma -- Elite 8: a high. 2002.
  Some of the high points:
  • each and every selection show. We'd gather at Dal Ward to watch the brackets be revealed. I don't know why, but we'd frantically pencil-in our own bracket as the schools were revealed, like that was the last time we'd see a bracket, ever. And you really DON'T know where you're going, or who you're playing until you see it on ESPN -- it's exciting! 
  • restoring a once-proud NCAA tradition to Colorado. The pictures of Buff teams that came before us, jumping on the scorer's table after a Sweet 16-trip was punched, was a picture we had all seen -- and were thrilled to do be able to do it ourselves! Two times!
  • proving the 'experts' wrong - as a nationally-ranked team from arguably the toughest conference in the country, no on picked us to make much noise. We felt that disrespect, and used it as motivation.
  • obviously each game we won was an extreme high. To live to play one more day, and extend the season with my best friends/teammates!

Second half vs. Oklahoma -- Elite 8: a low. 2002.
  The lows are a little bit more difficult to think of (thankfully), but there were a few none the less:
  • I injured my back my sophomore year, and was forced sit out our second round game vs. Vanderbilt. All I could do was watch as our season came to an end.
  • obviously only one team per year can end on a high note. So being eliminated each year were sad moments. 

  As a college basketball player, you work the entire season to make it to March. And March Madness is the culmination of that excitement. Once you get to the Dance, anything can happen. You're just fired-up to be a a part of it all -- what you grew up watching on TV.

Senior year Sweet 16 in Knoxville. 2003.
  Before I got to college, I remember watching the games: the upsets, the close games, the crazy finishes. In high school, guys brought portable TVs to school and we'd watch during breaks between classes (or sometimes during classes, if we were lucky!)

  I think the parity in the men's game makes March Madness even more special (and crazy). Anyone can really beat anyone on any given day. From the tip off of the first game to the Championship, each and every game can be a thriller, and come down to the wire. We don't see that on the women's side just yet, but it's slowly getting there.

  What are some of your March Madness memories, or things you're looking forward to in this year's tournament? Can't wait to watch!!

Below are some of my favorite NCAA Tournament pictures from my CU days!

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Elite 8 game action vs. Oklahoma. 2002.
Elite 8 celebration -- win over Stanford. 2002.
Clinched Sweet 16 -- win over North Carolina. 2003.
Tip off vs. Oklahoma. Elite Eight. 2002.
Sweet 16 celebration -- win over LSU. 2002.

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