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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After an endless regular season, the Madness is finally here.

But if we waited any longer, we'd have to rename the darn thing April Madness.

(Naturally, if you hadn't heard, television played a part in why this great tournament was delayed. Seems CBS wanted to use the Madness - the tournament ends on Monday, April 8 - as a lead in to The Masters, which begins three days later. So get ready for many, many breathless Augusta preview spots).

But at least it's here. And the first two days of the tournament are great (I know, technically, the tournament began with the play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday, but those are just lame and those poor teams are simply fodder).

So many games, so many possible upsets, and we get to see them all as they unfold at the end.

As a side note, for those of us a little older, remember the first time CBS unveiled the "whip around" where we were taken from game to game to see how they finished?

Today, that's old hat in every sport. Back then, it was just the coolest thing ever.

I digress.

The most important thing about today is that the regular season is, as mentioned, over (along with the endless conference tournaments) and how we are doing with our brackets.

About a year ago in this space, I tried to help you win your office pool. If you took any of my advice, you didn't win your office pool. In fact, you were probably embarrassed at how poorly you did.

That's why this year I didn't even try to offer any help. Maybe next year and maybe not. Keep your brackets to yourself, you'll be better off.

Let's just focus on what might happen because our pools have already been turned in.

Oh, before we do that, one last side note about the regular season and conference tournaments.

My brother asked me the other day if I remembered that wild Syracuse- Connecticut zillion-overtime game from a couple years ago.

I said that I did, but I was really lying. I didn't remember how many overtimes the game went. And I didn't even remember who won.

I did look it up and saw that the Orangemen won the game and did so in six frickin' overtimes. Wonderful stuff, but forgotten because it was a Big East quarterfinal and both teams were going to be in the big tournament anyway.

That says a lot about how little the games mean until the Madness starts. And it has.

For weeks, the experts have told us that this is the March Madness that's going to make all the others look tame.

With no dominant team, and so many of the big boys losing during the regular season, wide open is the theme of the day.

Man, I hope so.

How nice it would be, not for CBS and Turner, but for us, if that truly becomes the case.

I want obscurity and I want the obscure teams to flourish. And not just in the first round. But deep into this thing.

Give me eighth and ninth seeds in the Final Four and have the basketball blue bloods home watching on TV for a change.

Heck, I'd take Gonzaga - hardly a no-name by any standard - to win it all. The Zags have never done so, so let it happen this year.

I would like to think that if we did have a truly wild tournament, like the one from two years ago, maybe we'd get a little shift out of it and more of the top blue chippers in high school would consider going to a George Mason instead of a Duke. But that's probably too much to ask.

What I fear, deep down, is that once the heavyweights get into the tournament - and away from conference games on their rival's home courts - they'll take over (again!) and we'll end up with the status quo.

Give me Davidson or give me Iona. Or something like that.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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