Ready for March Madness
by Jim Buzzerd
Well, it’s that time of year when my favorite viewing events are lined up back-to-back. That would be the NCAA Basketball Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. The tournament concludes on Monday April 3, then, on Thursday, April 6, the Masters begins, which is my other favorite sporting event to watch. That’s not to say I don’t watch other sporting events, it’s just that these two events are my top two. One caveat is many West Virginia University men’s basketball and football games may be more important to me, but as annual events go it’s March Madness and the Masters.
The first weekend of the basketball tournament never seems to fail to provide some eye popping upsets. That first weekend is a big reason this event rates so highly in my book. The tournament officially begins with four play-in games two on Tuesday evening and two on Wednesday evening with the four winners moving into the 64 team bracket for games beginning on Thursday, which many consider the beginning of the tournament.
This year the tournament has a more personal meaning as West Virginia returns to the field after a one year absence. The Mountaineers finished the season with a 19-15 record after beating Texas Tech and losing to Kansas in last week’s Big 12 Basketball Tournament in Kansas City. WVU did enough in the selection committee’s eyes to be seeded ninth in the South Region where Alabama was named the number one overall seed and will play the first two games in Birmingham.
If you watched the selection show Sunday evening on CBS, you may have already guessed where I’m going with this. My memory fails a lot these days, but I seem to remember the selection show opening with the panel revealing the top four seeds at the opening. Anyway, on Sunday they began by naming Bama as the top overall seed in the south, and then put Maryland on the eight line in the south region. At that point I had a strong sense that West Virginia was going to pop up on the nine line, and that is exactly what happened.
So, the Mountaineers will open the tournament with border state rival, Maryland. When I say open the tournament, the WVU-Maryland game will actually be the opening game in the 64 team field. The Mountaineers were a two-point favorite on Monday. The game will tip at 12:15 p.m. Thursday on CBS. The winner will advance to a likely Saturday matchup with Alabama. The Crimson Tide will play the 16 seed, which will be the winner of Tuesday’s play-in game between Southeastern Missouri State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
It should also be mentioned that the West Virginia women’s basketball team made the NCAA field as a 10 seed in coach Dawn Plitzuweit’s first season as head coach. The Mountaineers will meet Arizona on Friday at noon in College Park, Md. The game is currently listed on ESPN. The winner will meet the winner of Holy Cross-Maryland on Sunday.