I’ll be the first to admit, filling out a bracket this year was tough.
I was in two groups and didn’t survive the first weekend in either one this year. In one group I took Kentucky to win it all, and in the other I was feeling risky and took Texas.
When I fill out my bracket, I try to pick teams I know can win, but which others won’t pick. That way, if my team actually wins the National Championship, I’ll win my group.
With that being said, my most anticipated games are the ones with my national champ in them.
This year, Kentucky played on the first day and dominated pretty overmatched Stony Brook team, which was no sweat off my back.
My other champion, Texas, played on Friday, the second day. The Longhorns played the mid-major Northern Iowa Panthers. I was actually a little nervous for the game but obviously thought Texas would get the job done.
I watched as the game tipped at around 10 p.m. and saw the Panthers shoot lights out through the first half and take a decently-sized lead into the break.
The second half then started and the script had switched. It was Texas who was now shooting the ball with confidence and knocking shots down.
By about the midway point in the second half, the game was tied and Texas had even taken a lead, but I was on the edge of my seat, stressed, tired from an entire day of basketball and just flat out nervous.
It was at this point I realized March Madness isn’t really fun at all – it’s actually the exact opposite.
I look forward to March Madness all year. I anticipate it for months in advance. I get into as many groups as I can and then when it comes around it always disappoints me. Not because of the games, the games are great, but because I put so much into rooting for certain teams and invest so much energy.
The end of the Texas game, for example, was one of the best moments of the tournament. Texas tied the game with two seconds left before Northern Iowa hit a half court buzzer-beater to win the game. I was devastated, my bracket was ruined and I had just invested two hours in a loss.
It was then I realized I should have enjoyed that game and appreciated how great it really was, but instead I was angry.
Kentucky followed suit Saturday and lost so I proceeded to watch the Sunday games with no rooting interest.
Finally, I could just enjoy the games.
Luckily for me, on Sunday Texas A&M pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks I have ever seen. I got to truly appreciate it and take in what I had just seen, something I couldn’t do two days before.
On Monday, my friend texted me and asked if I wanted to enter a Sweet Sixteen group and I thought to myself, “I probably shouldn’t, yesterday was great just enjoying games,” but I couldn’t resist. It was an impulsive answer and I just said yes.
So now when the Sweet Sixteen started on Thursday night, the stress, nerves and disappointment started all over again.
So I ask why? Why is the tournament so fun to watch and be involved in, yet so disappointing and devastating at the same time? And also why do we as sports fans and even non-sports fans fill out brackets and put ourselves through the misery that we know is coming each and every year?
I may never know the answer to these questions, but one thing I do know is that next year, I’ll put myself through it all over again and be just as disappointed if and probably when the team I pick to win gets knocked off.