March Madness: 3-Week Illness Begins

March Madness: 3-Week Illness Begins

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Annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins this week.

From the first tip offs in November to the final dunks in the conference tournaments last weekend, the stage has been getting set for the Field of 68. This past Sunday the 68 teams were identified following a busy weekend of basketball.

Top Seeds

Michigan State, Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse each earned No. 1 seeds, but only Michigan State won its conference championship to get there. Indeed, Syracuse lost in the Big East semifinals while UNC and Kentucky lost in their respective conference championships.

This year’s tournament begins today with a pair of opening round contests. Two more contests will be held on Wednesday before the “real” tournament begins in earnest on Thursday.

Tournament Notes

But, before the first games are played, there are some newsworthy notes about this year’s tournament including:

No Play — As usual, there are several teams that are crying “foul” as the selection committee passed them by. The team with the best record left out was the Drexel Dragons who, at 27-6, seemed to do everything right to make a case or the tournament. What they couldn’t do was beat VCU in the Colonial Athletic Conference championship game, therefore only the automatic-bid Rams made it. Others on the outside looking in are the Seton Hall Pirates and the Washington Huskies.

Bluegrass State Blues — All of the attention in Kentucky this year has been on the Wildcats. That attention is deserved, landing Kentucky an overall No.1 seed. However, it was Louisville that won its tournament this year, a Big East team that finished in 7th place this year. Kentucky may very well win it all this year, while some are suggesting that Louisville will be knocked out in the first round as they take on Davidson.

Eight is Enough — Once again, the Big East has the most teams in the tournament this year, with eight named. Whether that will help yield a champion this year remains to be seen. What we do know is that Syracuse will soon depart for the ACC and Pitt, down this year, will join it. West Virginia is headed for the Big 12, with Memphis, Temple and Houston among the teams slated to replace it. It will seem odd in future years, however, for no ‘Cuse fans to be on hand at Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament.

First Round Bounce — Unless you’re a 7 v. 10 or an 8 v. 9 team, your first round win will not be considered an upset that leaves a bunch of 6 v. 11 seeds down to 1 v. 15 or 16 seeds vulnerable for an upset this year. In the East Regional, we see one possibility: Texas sending Cincinnati home early. In the Midwest Regional, Temple could lose, especially if it faces opening round player South Florida. NC State might also beat San Diego State. In the South Regional, VCU might upend Wichita State. In the West Regional, Louisville is vulnerable as is Murray State.

Back to Work

One thing is certain over the next three weeks: workplace productivity will take a hit, especially wherever companies are situated near schools that are participating in this year’s tournament. Last year, the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc., said that $192 million in productivity is lost when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is being played. That accounts for 8 million man-hours lost as some companies simply give in and allow workers to watch afternoon games while at work.

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