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The NCAA tournament reigns king in the world of sports

The NCAA tournament is underway, and it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Last week, millions of people across the United States, including myself, filled out a bracket competing against friends and family trying to pick the winners of these games.

By now, many people’s dream of obtaining a perfect bracket are already crushed. Believe me, it is easier said than done when trying to decide who will win.

What could possibly be better than watching college athletes compete in a basketball tournament that is single elimination to decide who truly is the best team in college basketball?

The NFL, NBA and MLB playoffs are all great, but I believe there are three reasons why the NCAA tournament is the best event in sports.

The first reason is because it involves college athletes.

These are individuals who are not only dedicated to their sport, but are also students as well.  College athletes don’t get paid like professional do so they are truly playing for the love of the game.

My second reason why I think it is the best is because of the number of teams that are involved.

There are 68 teams that compete in this tournament. Each conference has its own championship at the end of the year. Teams that win the conference championship are automatic bids. The remaining teams are decided by a selection committee to give them an at-large bid.

Some may argue the field of 68 is watered down and there are too many teams. I disagree. I believe this is what makes the first weekend exciting. Last week, there were over 20 games on Thursday and Friday when the tournament was underway.

Should the tournament include more teams? One individual believes so. In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Bubba Cunningham the athletic director for the University of North Carolina stated that “when you have 348 teams trying to get what is now 68 places in the tournament, the odds are pretty long for a lot of teams…There are teams that don’t have a great deal of hope.”

The third and final reason why this tournament is the best is because it involves small schools that might not get much exposure as bigger schools do.

The USD women’s basketball team was able to win the Summit League Tournament championship and earn a spot in the Women’s tournament. This was their first Summit League title.

What makes the tournament great is a team like USD that may not be well known but can be become a Cinderella and knock off a tournament favorite.

Last year, Wichita State, a ninth seed in the men’s tournament, made it all the way to the Final Four. No one expected this to happen, but that’s what makes it great — the amount of unpredictability.

South Dakota doesn’t have a professional sports team. This tournament allows USD to represent South Dakota and show the rest of the country you don’t have to be a big school to make the tournament.