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The Gun Show || The Bolder the Better: A Look at the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

It’s that time of year again. Flip on the TV: brackets. Log onto the Internet: brackets. If you dare turn on an ESPN network, you get bracketology. But what is the rage around these brackets, I mean aren’t they just pieces of paper? Well once March rolls around, NCAA basketball becomes a way of life. Suddenly it rules the lives of millions of fans.

All of these fans will be monitoring each game-break as if it were a drastic world event. And they’ll be on top of the NCAA and its every happening during the tournament. A high-ranked loss in the tournament to the NCAA fan is like the outbreak of a world-war to an average person. There is no other sporting event that carries such excitement, besides (arguably) the Super Bowl. March Madness seems to literally turn some fans mad; for weeks they’ll be glued to every inbounds pass and blown call.

If you need a little brushing up on the subject, here it goes. The NCAA tournament occurs every March when the NCAA selection committee chooses 68 teams (slimmed to 64 teams after play-in games) to compete in the ultimate basketball tournament. This, as you will see in late March, produces the champion of collegiate basketball.

This year, there has been an uncanny anticipation for the start of the tournament. As we’ve encountered scandals, surprises and superiority in the regular season, fans recognize the tournament could contain even more. Starting last weekend, teams began participating in the matchups. In what seemed to be battles to the death, players and coaches gave their all for the chance to represent their University in each succeeding round.

Teams this year seem as ready as ever. Although we seem to go into the tournament every year thinking a UNC, Duke or Big Ten team will win the championship, this year the squads seem strong. Again, it’s highly unlikely that two one seeds will combat all the elements and make it to the final round. Usually, we get some sort of Cinderella Story. In the past, there have been teams like the 2011 VCU squad, who came from a twelfth seed to make the Final Four. We’ve also had teams like the 2006 George Mason Patriots. Both of these squads overcame extreme adversity to earn themselves a spot in the Final Four.

Whether it be these highly-ranked teams making a run or watching a low-profile player become the player of the tournament, March Madness has it all. Cinderella squads can take down powerhouses. Low profile coaches from small division one teams just may out-maneuver the likes of Coach K., Roy Williams or Thad Mata. So if you’re someone who enjoys predictability, this clearly is not the right route for you.

These few weeks in March make and break careers, bringing forth stars and coaches who may be forever- labeled by the likes of what has happened in the tournament.

As the clock winds down, seniors’ playing careers may be coming to a close, or they may be thrust towards a national title. You may also find that the tournament makes smaller teams national, creates heroes and memories that are embedded in fans, players, coaches and the like, for ages.

As for audience participation, the tournament allows for one to be up close and personal and highly involved. You, as an average Joe, can pick the champion. As for another touch of personalization, I’ve chosen to go bold this year. My predictions are unlike any I’ve ever made.

As a bit of advice, I’d like to throw in the advice that in choosing your teams, be unique. Be the person that would be forced into a Today Show interview because of your spot-on picking precision.

With an overwhelming run, NC State will fall short of winning a national title, to the Missouri Tigers, 76-63. NC State, winning their first tournament game in six years, will make the run at the title behind Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie. Cut short, they will fall to the Marcus Denmon led Missouri squad. Bold, I know. Even more questionable are my Final Four Selections…these are Missouri, NC State, Ohio State and Xavier.

My picks seem to already be corrupted as (2) Missouri fell to (15) Norfolk State in the opening round. In a drastic upset that has been matched only five other times in history, the Missouri loss brought a crushing blow to Dan Gunderman’s bracket. But, this is part of the excitement of the tournament. So fans, keep watching and you might witness, another amazing VCU or George Mason run. To add on to the excitement, try picking one of the obscure winners! And if you find yourself yelling at the screen, over a bogus travel or double-dribble call, you know it must be March.