Best time of the year

Unless you live in a hole somewhere or you live in a state where ice hockey is king (don't understand that) then you probably are sharing in some of the excitement that I am indulging in over the next couple of weeks. College basketball conference tournaments are in high gear and next week starts the big dance, the NCAA basketball tournament. Indeed, it's the most wonderful time of the year!

You may be wondering why guys like myself get so excited over all of this. How in the world can we watch Missouri Valley Tech. vs. Hogan Point College at 11:52 p.m. on ESPN? My wife duly notes that I don't even like those schools and probably couldn't tell you where they were located (although I'm pretty sure Missouri Valley Tech. is in Missouri). My answer: These games mean something. The loser stays home unless he gets invited to a "lesser" postseason tournament. The winner gets to the big stage - the big dance, March madness - where he gets to face down a Goliath that will probably beat him by 50 points, but it's still the dance.

Everyone once in awhile a school that earned its way to the dance by virtue of winning its conference tournament will upset one of the big boys. I don't remember the year, but I still smile with satisfaction reminiscing about Weber State defeating UNC in the first round or Duke losing to VCU two years ago. Sure, my Deacons haven't been there in awhile, and we certainly haven't come close to winning the thing, but I'm always optimistic.

So today I'm gearing up for second round action of the ACC tournament, especially tonight at 7:00 where my Deacs will square off against Maryland. Then once the weekend is over, it's on to the NCAA tournament with wall-to-wall ballgames and over analysis from cheesy broadcasters who are only calling the games because there are so many of them. This is a great way to introduce my kids to the glory that is college sports and it gives us a great excuse to eat too many chips and drink too many sodas. And even if my team doesn't win, I can still enjoy watching UNC and Duke underachieve yet again.

Let me add one last thing. Gabriel Lowder, a freshman on Guilford College's basketball team and one of my students, is playing in Ohio today in the Sweet Sixteen of the Division 3 NCAA tournament. Although this game won't be televised you can catch some of the action on The Weather Channel because Gabriel, aka G$, is gonna make it rain in Ohio!

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