Return of March Madness serves as this year’s One Shining Moment


One can make a case the best part of the NCAA Tournament is the montage of the tournament otherwise known as One Shining Moment. It takes place after the closing credits of the NCAA championship game telecast.

Oral Roberts, Buddy Boeheim, Sister Jean and Loyola Chicago, Baylor, Gonzaga, Abilene Christian and Geo Baker certainly will provide the montage of this year’s One Shining Moment.

The return of the men’s and women’s tournament itself should be a One Shining Moment after its absence last season as the coronavirus pandemic canceled the NCAA season altogether. We missed it. The NCAA postseason serves as a bridge to spring, Major League Baseball, NFL Draft, Stanley Cup playoffs and NBA playoffs. It means the end of winter and good days ahead.

As a kid growing up, I watched the tournament as a diversion to getting ready for baseball. It was my introduction to college basketball. I got hooked with the upsets and drama that came with it. Watching Princeton pull off an upset against then-defending national champion UCLA in 1996 on a brilliantly coaching clinic by then-Princeton coach Pete Carril stood out the most when it comes to watching upsets of all time when upsets were really legitimate.

The NCAA Tournament served as a ritual for the sports fan in March. Fans used it to scout players that they eventually would watch as NBA players. They would participate in brackets in an attempt to make money by getting a perfect pool. They would use it as an excuse to party at bars.

For students, the tournament served as a spring break for them as something to watch.

Nowadays, people used the tournament to make bets and make some money out of it.

Who doesn’t enjoy talking about the games in real-time on social media?

We missed all of that last year. It seems like we have some slice of normal now that we got the tournament back.

Who didn’t enjoy the upsets that serve as the feature of the first round? Oral Roberts going to the Sweet 16 is great stuff. Loyola Chicago showing that it’s a legitimate team is beautiful to watch. Baylor and Gonzaga are playing like a team on a collision course for the national championship game by shooting 3s after 3s.

We always appreciated the purity and fun of the NCAA Tournament. We never took it for granted. But this year took on its own meaning after last year’s absence. The players are enjoying the moment. Coaches are thankful to be part of the experience. The fans are just happy that they have something to watch rather than be inundated with CNN’s coronavirus news.

It felt good being into the Rutgers games this past weekend. I enjoyed listening to Rutgers play-by-play guy Jerry Recco chronicling every moment of the Rutgers game against Clemson on the radio.

I loved being into it every possession of the game between Rutgers and Houston at the Blackbird Pub and Restaurant, a watering hole I hang out on Sundays here in Cliffside Park, NJ.

I enjoyed writing stories about Rutgers for this site last week. It’s a shame I won’t be doing any more about the Scarlet Knights since they are out after losing to Houston 63-60 on Sunday.

Still, it won’t stop me from watching Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four and the national title game. I plan on writing stuff from those games for the next two weeks. This is the fun time of the year for me to watch.

It’s great to see we are going to see a champion for the men’s and women’s tournament this season. The men and women were denied of it last season. I felt bad for Rutgers, Seton Hall’s Myles Powell and Sabrina Ionescu for not getting a chance to shine last year after working so hard to be in that position.

The NCAA did the right thing canceling it last season because it was too soon and too fast for anyone to adapt under these COVID-19 conditions. To rush this with no plan did not seem smart considering the pandemic was fresh and raw.

Once Major League Baseball, NHL, NBA, MLS, NWSL and the NFL figured out a way to get it operating again, we knew we would get back to normal of watching sports despite the pandemic still going on.

For college athletes to get a chance to enjoy their glory again, that’s what I am most happy for in the return of college basketball. For Rutgers and its fans to enjoy the moment of being in the dance, that’s what I enjoy the most from this tournament.

There will be a winner soon.

But the return of the tournament for men’s and women’s makes all of us a winner.

This past week was fun, and it gets better the next two weeks.

March finally has its meaning again.

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