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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Lessons learned from March Madness

The time is upon us. After electronically – or manually, if you lack technological savvy or friends – filling out your brackets, the weeks have advanced. Most individuals, including myself, ended up writing a death certificate along with a prescription for high blood pressure medication.

Michigan turned my pick of Tennessee advancing to the Sweet Sixteen into the stereotypical blonde girl in the opening of any slasher flick. Other decisions, such as Kansas State in the Final Four, did not support my bracket, and I began my slow decline to the depths of my bracket standings.

But alas, like the metallic, shape-shifting policeman in Terminator 2, my bracket just would not die. I have the opportunity to win my bracket pool on Monday night if UConn and the fighting Kemba Walkers take home the trophy. It will not only be a victory for myself, but also a victory for the basketball world.

I say this because the current leader in my bracket pool of twenty is from Canada, and she picked the winners based on the collaborative cuteness of their colors and mascots. However, she did teach me the first valuable lesson of March Madness, and I discovered more throughout this tournament.

Lesson 1: Don’t use your head.

Seeding does not matter. I am not condoning the picks of fifteen and sixteen seeds, but statistical strength of teams has meant little when deciding the advancement of teams over the past two years. Instead, be in touch with your feelings—your gut feelings, that is.

I had a feeling that an experienced Butler team would make a run into the late stages, but you could not tell me that a Gordon Hayward-less Butler team could match up against a dominant Pittsburgh team. Human intuition is much stronger than we know, and the most commonly used phrase of any NCAA tournament is, “I knew I should have picked them.”

Lesson 2: One player can carry a team.

Strong, fundamentally sound teams win championships. However, this tournament has taught the nation that strong, fundamentally sound players can win championships. I will admit that I have a strong ‘bromance’ for Kemba Walker, but his play on the court has amazed fans and confused critics.

UConn has won an astonishing ten consecutive games including the Big East tournament. In those games, Walker has averaged 25.5 points per game. Sure, players such as Jeremy Lamb have stepped up to provide support for Walker, but it would be idiotic to believe that this UConn team would have won a majority of those games without Walker.

Lesson 3: Do not pick all five seeds to defeat twelve seeds, as well as all one seeds to make it to the Final Four.

The first has always been a rule of thumb, which I decided to break this year. A 12 seed has advanced to the second round 23 of the last 26 years. Vanderbilt has played poorly in their NCAA tournament past. Richmond was considered by many to be one of the smartest Cinderella picks. This is just one of the many mysteries of the tournament that must be respected.

The second rule applies mostly to Barack Obama, and the sheer stupidity of the concept. The only year in which all four one seeds made the Final Four was in 2008. If you think about it, each one seed must play a cupcake team, a mediocre team, a strong four seed, and a team that just missed being that one seed – disbarring upset – in order to make it to the Final Four. In reality, seeds one through four all have legitimate claims to being a one seed. The percentage chance of all four teams advancing is next to zero.

Lesson 4: Alabama would most likely have made a run in this tournament.

It is very disappointing that Alabama did not make the NCAA tournament this year. Through watching the tournament, most fans should feel even more jilted due to the success of the underdog.

I compare Alabama to Florida State in this tournament. Florida State showed the nation what good defense provides come tournament time. Besides VCU’s loss to Butler, the only team that had a chance to beat them was Florida State. They held Texas A&M to 50 points, as well as favorite Notre Dame to 57. Seeing these results by a team, which many analysts considered the most purely defensive team in the entire tournament, shows how well Alabama could have played there. This follows in to my last lesson learned.

Lesson 5: Alabama has a bright future ahead of them with Anthony Grant

No disrespect to Shaka Smart, but the VCU team that made a run in the tournament is composed of mostly Grant’s recruits. Star players Jamie Skeen and Bradford Burgess are signs that Grant can attract shooters to a program, which is dire for the growth of the Alabama Crimson Tide. With the resources and recruiting base available for Grant, expect this team to be a consistent contender within the next few years.

As this tournament winds down, remember these lessons for future brackets as well as keeping faith in the Alabama team. Hopefully, the UConn Huskies can bring me a bracket championship as well. Thank goodness Huskies are cuter than Bulldogs; it is a definite win now.


Tyler Rigdon is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. His column runs biweekly on Mondays.


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