By Adam Stanco
7 Secrets to NCAA Tournament
Anticipation drapes over
the entire country. Office break rooms are aflutter with chatty non-sports
fans sharing thoughts on the game with other chatty non-sports fans. Our
neighbors, our family, random strangers. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion
on the game.
Only two major sporting
events grab us all by the neck and force us to watch. One is the Super Bowl.
The other is the NCAA Tournament. The Super Bowl is played by football
professionals with multi-million dollar salaries. The NCAA Tournament is
played by teenagers from Florida A&M and Central Connecticut State.
Think nerves aren’t a
And it isn’t just about the
little guys. Tournament games are exercises in obsessive intensity. The
one-and-done format is already intimidating enough to melt steel guts into
gelatin. When an underdog drips desperation, desire, and a dream-come-true
mentality, their favored counterparts may see the exit long before reaching
their desired destination.
The most successful teams
play with panache, while still protecting the basketball. Experience equals
calmness. Relaxed teams rarely face frigid shooting stretches or suffer from
turnoveritis. Upperclassmen who previously pushed through arduous tourney
runs are more comfortable playing without worry. They also play with more
appreciation for the opportunity. Juniors and seniors realize how quickly
four years slips away. By the time their scholarship clocks click to a
close, they play every game as if it is their last. That is, of course,
because it could be.
During the 1995 NCAA
Tournament, UCLA senior forward Ed O’Bannon was a case study in resiliency.
At the tail end of a turbulent career sullied by knee injuries, he cherished
each trip down the floor during each of his last six tourney games. O’Bannon
relentlessly pursued the title as if he were Kirstie Alley chasing a chili
dog. Knowing just one loss would terminate his career, O’Bannon’s urgent
play garnered a championship banner for Westwood and a Most Outstanding
Player trophy for himself.
Michigan State’s talented
seniors Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson showed a similar now-or-never
attitude in 2000. They won a National Championship a year after losing to
Duke in the national semi-finals. Same was true of Juan Dixon and the 2002
Maryland title team. A season prior to winning it all, the Terps were also
knocked out of the Final Four by the Blue Devils.
Thus, a year after Duke
defeated them, the display of desperation from Cleaves, Peterson, and Dixon
was the most important reason their teams won titles.
Secrets For NCAA Tournament
- NBA potential is no joke.
- The bigger, the better.
- Simple math: three is better than two.
- Who has nerves of steel?
- Winning is the All-American way.
- Little guys point the way.
- Fear of the unknown.
The March Manifesto is the secret
to filling out your NCAA Tournament bracket.