Christmas technically only happens one time a year and some dub July 25 as “Christmas in July.”
But I believe that Christmas can happen in March.
If you don’t understand what I am talking about, ask Joe Callero, head coach of the Cal Poly Mustangs, who will be dancing for the first time in school history.
The Mustangs defeated Cal State Northridge 61-59 Saturday to win the 2014 Big West Conference Tournament Championship. The Mustangs will enter the NCAA Division I Tournament with a 13-19 record, the only team with a losing record in the tournament.
If you ask Callero, he will probably agree that the win felt like Christmas morning. I bet Callero had trouble sleeping the night before and was excited to wake up to see what his team was going to do. After the game was over, Callero opened up the locker room door and couldn’t wait to see what was going to be inside. Inside was the greatest gift he could have received: A conference tournament trophy and the smiling faces of 17 players.
It feels like Christmas morning to the fan and bracketologist as well. There is paper all over the floor – brackets that have been filled out or torn up. There is excitement as the upsets start to unfold.
This is called “March Madness.”
I’ve said it time in and time out, March is a special month simply because a nobody can become a somebody with one single shot. Ask Chris McNaughton, Ali Farokhmanesh, T.J. Sorrentine and C.J. McCollum.
McNaughton hit an awkward hook shot for Bucknell University with 10.5 seconds left in the game to defeat Kansas University in the opening round in 2005. Farokhmanesh hit several key shots to guide his No. 9 seed Northern Iowa Panthers to an upset over the number one seeded Kansas in 2010. Sorrentine hit a three-pointer from the parking lot to lead his number fourteen seeded Vermont University Catamounts to a stunning upset of the number three seeded Syracuse Orange. McCollum single handily defeated the Duke University Blue Devils in 2012 as No. 15 Lehigh University defeated the number two seeded Blue Devils.
I witnessed Mr. McCollum’s performance against Duke in 2012 as I sat in Section 234 Row C with thousands of other stunned Blue Devil fans around me.
I will say something was definitely magical in the air that night, I was just hoping it was for the Notre Dame/Xavier game that was going to follow the Duke/Lehigh game.
As the brackets were released Sunday evening, I was shocked to see the seeding. Louisville, the defending national champions, are a four seed. Kentucky, despite the record and mid-season hiccups, could knock out mid-major favorite and No. 1 seed Wichita State in the second round. Michigan State is a four seed in the East bracket and very well could win the national championship on that side of the bracket.
It’s really hard to see or predict any major upsets this season as the bracket is evenly distributed. I like the No. 12 seed North Carolina State Wolfpack to win their play-in matchup and make a run. I really like Oklahoma State to cause trouble in the West bracket. My Cinderella pick would be Tulsa. Head coach Danny Manning is going to take what he learned playing/coaching at Kansas and make a run.
I’ll give you one of my many final four predictions and national champion, then we all will change our brackets 50 more times before the first game.
East: Michigan State
National Championship: Michigan State vs. Louisville
National Champion: Michigan State
It’s finally here, the madness of March. Let’s enjoy it; it only happens once a year.