News / USA

March Madness Enthralls Basketball Fans

Pep Band Cheerleaders from University of Cincinnati at March Madness game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Pep Band Cheerleaders from University of Cincinnati at March Madness game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Parke Brewer

It’s known as "March Madness."  That is the nickname for the annual men’s college basketball tournament that decides the champion from among the United States’ largest [Division 1] colleges and universities. The closely followed tournament evokes great passion in fans.

In this year’s tournament preview issue, Sports Illustrated  magazine called March Madness "the most exciting three weeks in sports."

It has truly become the equivalent of the excitement generated around the rest of the world in the knockout phases of football’s World Cup.

This year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA] added four additional schools to the field, so the single-elimination tournament now features 68 teams. The madness comes from the thrilling upsets and buzzer-beating winning baskets, the school pep bands playing court-side and the painted faces of the loud, passionate fans.

On the very first full day of games - March 17 - Richmond University of Virginia, Morehead State University of Kentucky and Gonzaga University in the state of Washington all scored upsets to advance, while Temple University of Philadelphia and last year’s runner-up Butler University from Indiana, won on last-second shots.

Butler survived its opener with a thrilling win over Old Dominion University from Virginia. Here is how Westwood One's Scott Graham called the finish.

"Shot is up, and it’s good! Shot counts at the buzzer! A wild scramble for the basketball! Butler came out of the pack with it, and the game-winning shot as time expires here in Washington!"

College basketball historian and author John Feinstein told VOA it’s these types of games that make March Madness what it is.

"There is something magical about it. You watch the first game here in Washington, goes right to the buzzer [up to the last moment of play] and a kid makes the play. And Butler pulls out a game, and then you’re following scores around the country, and Morehead State beats Louisville [in a huge upset], and Princeton has a chance to beat Kentucky. And it’s just so much fun not knowing what’s going to happen next, right through to the championship game."

Feinstein said, in recent years, there have been so many thrilling games between large and small schools because of rules that allow star players to leave for the professional ranks after only a year or two of college. Those top players tend to go to the larger schools, which makes it necessary to constantly recruit to fill their places, while players at the smaller schools tend to stay through graduation and gain valuable experience playing together for a longer period.

"You have seniors, who may not be as talented as freshmen and sophomores at the power schools, but they’re more experienced. They may be a little calmer under fire," said Feinstein.

Feinstein said that’s what he and the fans love about it, because it is not always the same teams that advance, as is usually the case with American football at the collegiate level.

Nathan Brock, a University of Cincinnati fan at March Madness game in Washington, D.C.
Nathan Brock, a University of Cincinnati fan at March Madness game in Washington, D.C.

For instance, the University of Cincinnati in Ohio made the tournament field for the first time in six years. Student Nathan Brock said that was a cause for celebration on campus. He entered his university’s lottery, won the right to purchase tickets and told VOA he drove nine hours to the nation’s capital to see his school play.

"For me, I’ve been a student there for five years. I’m about to graduate, so I’ve been through [following] this team since a mixed first year, and it’s just been a ride, you know. The first year was kind of rough [for the team], and then we’ve gotten better every year, every year, so to be in the NCAA tournament is big for me," said Brock.

In addition to following their favorite teams, fans also compete with each other in guessing which teams will advance each round and make it to the finals.

University of Missouri fan Susie Barnello with her family at a March Madness game in Washington, D.C.
University of Missouri fan Susie Barnello with her family at a March Madness game in Washington, D.C.

University of Missouri alumna and big fan Susie Barnello said she bought her tickets from a broker, paying about four times face value so she could experience the excitement of March Madness in person.

"It’s great. It’s the energy of basketball. It’s watching my Missouri Tigers, and it’s an exciting time. It’s great."

After three weeks of "March Madness" with games played across the country, the so-called Final Four will gather in Houston, Texas, for the semifinals on April 2. The championship game also will be played there two nights later.

You May Like

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

Governors of several East Coast states close schools, order travel bans, urge people to stay home as snowfall, heavy winds, flooding continue in areas More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid