Tourney Magic and Madness

You don’t have to be an avid follower of basketball to get drawn into the college basketball post season. "I really don’t follow sports that much," Junior Jeffrey Yang said. "But NCAA basketball always gets me riled up." Whether its the sadness of yet another bracket bust, the disgust for that team you loathe the most, or the pride of winning your bracket league, March Madness ignites many emotions in the millions of fans that passionately follow the NCAA tournament. As always, this year’s tourney did not fail to captivate. Here’s a little recap of this spring’s action. The first round bracket breakers began with the notable trampling of former number one ranked Wake Forest by a thirteen ranked Cleavland State team followed by an Ohio state defeat at the hands of Siena. By the sweet sixteen, tempers over the Wake Forest failure subsided as many brackets enjoyed the lack of any major surprise upsets. However, as the time of peace lasted, one team was slowly developing its fateful run; a team which would break brackets yet carry on its shoulders the support of an entire nation. The Michigan State Spartans began there tournament run in the shadows. Despite being an impressive number two rank, expectations for a spartan finals run were dismissed as sheer foolery. By the time Michigan State reached the elite eight against the nation’s top-seeded Louisville Cardinals, most people outside of Lansing, Michigan, had already decided the bus trip home for the underdog Spartans. However, the Spartans fought bitterly for there spot in the final four and sent the Cardinals home while college basketball nation watched in shock as the bracket cascade began. As fellow number one Louisville fell, so did the Pittsburgh Panthers at the hands of the Villanova guard play. By the time the final four began, many had trashed their brackets (all but President Obama who’s North Carolina Tarheels still remained in championship contention). Detroit set the stage for the final four. The once forgotten Spartans were now coming home to play in front of thousands of their very own fans. Despite being fueled by spartan green in a jam packed football stadium, Michigan State was yet again predicted by most to lose at the hands of a dominant number one ranked Connecticut club. However, the Spartan magical run was not about to stop. Pushed on by their fan nation, Michigan State pulled yet another upset and shot themselves in the finals with the North Carolina Tarheels. The nation had been convinced. The Spartans had proved themselves to be the Cinderella for not only the tournament but more importantly for the state of Michigan. Ina state which was devastated by the economy, the Spartans gave the struggling people of Michigan a temporary distraction. Despite being cut apart by job loss, the Michigan people united behind their Spartans till the very end. It would be fair to say that every state not named North Carolina was rooting for the Spartan Cinderella story to have a happy ending. The crowd was pumped, the viewers were in anticipation, and the teams were set to brawl it out. The only thing missing was a champion. As with most Cinderella runs, the story did not end as most people hoped it would. Outsized, outmatched, and out maned, the Spartans simply could not compete with the UNC Tarheel machine. The game turned out to be not really even a game as the 72,000 strong crowd could only find the heart to cheer when the Spartans were fortunate enough to cut the lead to 16. Finally, the final buzzer blared and Tarheel nation celebrated. As TV viewers watched "One Shining Moment," Michigan and the nation bid a sad farewell to their beloved Spartans. However, the utter dominance, preparation, and outright impressive skill of the Tarheels cannot be put into the shadows. In college basketball the only team that wins is the team which is simply better than the other, and the Spartans unfortunately could not hold back the Tarheel monster. This years tournament will hold a special place in every fan’s heart. Yeah, the making and breaking of bracketts was ever present, but that was not what really mattered in this tourney. No, this tournament showed us that a sports team like the Michigan State Spartans can unite a state and a nation simply with the game of basketball.