March Madness 2021: It is madness indeed


Daniel May, Sports Editor

With the inevitable loss of last year’s March Madness tournament, sports fans all around the country are counting down the seconds until the start of the 2021 March Madness Tournament on Thursday.

This tournament perhaps holds the most significance of any tournament in the 81-year league history.

Why you may ask? When the Covid-19 pandemic first swept the country, the March Madness Tournament was one of the first things to go. Now, here we are a year later, and the tournament is one of the first major events to come back.

I love when things come full-circle (especially when it deals with sports).

Here are the biggest storylines going into the tournament:

2020-2021 Duke was a Major Fluke

After looking back on the past year, I have come to the conclusion that Covid-19 isn’t the craziest thing that has happened.

For the first time in 25 years, the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team missed the tournament.

The young team finished 13-11 and tenth in their conference- the worst they have done since the 1982-1983 season. The blame for this atrocity can be passed around to more than one person. The main man to blame however would be Mr. Covid.

After a mediocre season, Duke needed to win their ACC championship game to get a birth in the tournament. However, a few days before the game, one of their players tested positive for Covid-19.

The game was canceled, and so was Duke’s tournament berth. This is only the second time in 35 seasons that Duke has missed the tournament.

What a load of Bull

For the first time since 2015, the University of Buffalo men’s basketball team has missed the NCAA March Madness Tournament and lost the MAC tournament championship.
Although I’m writing for Buffalo State, it’s always nice to see this friendly foe make the tournament. It gives me someone to root for and serves as a constant motivator to the Buff State team to get better.

After suffering a heart-wrenching 84-69 loss to the Ohio Bobcats in the MAC championship, the Bulls left the court with their heads lowered and dreams crushed. It was a “win and in” for the favored Bulls, but fifth-seeded Ohio served them the upset and recorded their first tournament berth since 2012.

I suppose this is the one instance where the old saying, “if you mess with the bull you’re going to get the horns,” isn’t all that true. To the UB men’s basketball team- don’t hang your horns too low, there’s always next year.

What a load of Bulldogs

Following Sunday’s release of the 2021 March Madness Bracket, Gonzaga was named the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s tournament.

In fact, many analysts are saying this is the best team Gonzaga has ever had. Lead by projected top-five NBA draft pick Jalen Suggs (14.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 2.0 SPG), the Bulldogs finished a perfect 26-0. This is the first time in the young team’s history that they have finished undefeated.

However, this milestone won’t fill their empty stomach. They are looking to be the first team to cap off an undefeated regular season with an NCAA tournament win since Indiana’s perfect season in 1976.

With some of the best players in the nation on their squad, there’s a very real chance this could happen. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching March Madness, it’s that anything can happen.

It was only three years ago that 16 seed UMBC pulled off the upset against No. 1 overall seed Virginia. It is extremely unlikely that anything like this will ever happen again in the near future, but never say never.

So, in conclusion, I can’t wait to set up my four-screen setup to maximize my “game watchage” (“game watchage is a term I coined back in high school. It stands for how many games one can watch at once for a sport. Especially in March Madness, many games happen at once, so it’s very important to maximize your “game watchage” so you don’t miss anything).

Although there are no hometown teams to root for (the closest being St. Bonaventure’s), it will still be very nice to watch the return of one of the biggest sporting events in this country.

This tournament will serve as a huge milestone in our country’s return from the Covid-19 pandemic.