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March Madness

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network

Yes, it is that time of the year once again. Let the insanity being. Legal lunacy. Bracket paranoia. Gambling absurdity. Psychotic selection process. Collegiate delusions of grandeur. Pointless choices and crazed fans with painted bodies, shaven heads and the dipsomania that comes at this time of the year with the first signs of Spring coming out of the ground.

March Madness has been the recipient of a marketing surge rivaled only by the likes of the Super Bowl, World Series and, to a lesser degree, NBA Championship and Stanley Cup. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the Olympics, World Cups of Soccer or Rugby but, on our side of the pond it is Indy, the Triple Crown, Masters, Wimbledon , Tour de France and Grand Pris rolled into one.

Tyler Hansbrough
All eyes will be on North Carolina...

Tournament bids have already been put in place, conference championships are winding down this weekend, winners will go and others will prepare for the dance as well based upon their season-long records. Still others, deserving of recognition and invitations, will be omitted, left home to watch, if they can stomach it, on the plasma screen in the lounge, bemoaning the fact that men who cannot balance a good meal are trying to balance choices and fates. It is an unfair process. It is one fraught with excuses made instantly thereafter when interviews are sought for reasonable responses. None are usually forthcoming. They, the selection committee, play with friendships, bringing in teams that do not belong based upon some perverted sense of alleged balance, and a display that verifies the fact that these patriarchal and advanced members of the sports community do not have a clue and have never seen most of the teams play.

That being said, the top seeds will, for the most part, advance. The dark horses and long shots will flirt with glory but, in the end, lose out as she chooses another with whom to dance.

The sportsbooks of Nevada will have standing room crowds and the phone lines to Costa Rica, Antigua, Malta, Panama and other off-shore destinations will be busy every day but not with folks making vacation plans. It is a fact of life despite the protestations and entreaties of our government, in defiance of laws that should not be made by people who are mulling over their own bracket choices right now. Ironic and insulting to the intelligence.

All eyes will be on North Carolina and Memphis with Wisconsin , Tennessee and Kansas lurking nearby, a ladder on hold, scissors ready in the hands of the trainer. I always wondered why the winner cut the net down instead of just removing it from the hooks securing it to the rim, an easier more intelligent process that would keep the net intact.

Western Kentucky and a few other potential upstarts will be the recipients and audience of pre-game locker room speeches by coaches who could be running for office.

Chris Douglas-Roberts
...and Memphis

Millions of dollars are involved, from tickets being purchased to hotels, travel, TV ads, sponsors, advertisers, memorabilia items, hot dogs and drinks, pre and post game parties while our American world, the institution of academia, gives way?the learning process occupying a back seat as others within it who were granted privilege to the university because they can dunk a basketball take center stage. The more talented among them have only made a temporary stop. They are eagerly seeking out scouts from the NBA in the audience as they take to the court for pre-game drills. It is the nature, and essence, of what college sports has become, particularly basketball.

But, back to the idiosyncratic, the wacky world of the maniacal month of March, the rabid and tumultuous tournaments that are the madness surrounding us now, and for the few weeks ahead. It is a delirium we savor. It is America , college basketball at its heralded best.

Tell me you are not in a bracket pool and I will tell you to check how late Confession is available to you and, while you are at it, ask the Priest who listens who he likes. Say 20 Hail Marys and take North Carolina .

What about Duke, father?

Maybe. Get two entries.

It?s a great time for sports. When it comes to March Madness there is no reason for anyone to go anywhere but to where you are right now... www.sportsnetwork.com. A bit of self praise and pride? Perhaps, but also a lot of fact. Go on, get to our coverage and you tell us.

Excitement, enjoyment, disappointment, rapture, groans, mortification, bafflement, hindsight, delight, revenue gains and losses, cheers, jeers and feeling young again. It is all there this Month, the pre Spring Break rites of the time.

As for the early bracket choices, there are reasons they are not accorded great values. So, don?t worry too much about wins and losses... just get to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four. That?s where the tallies are critical. The final winner? If I knew that I would have reserved a suite at the Mirage or MGM. But for the record, I like North Carolina and Memphis . Will I be watching with you? You gotta be kidding!