The big dance that is March Madness!

Kolby KickingWoman

#KickinWithKolby — Thoughts from a Native sports fan #Sportzball

It’s madness, madness I tell ya!

And no, I’m not talking about the coronavirus.

I’m referring to the NCAA’s annual tournament, “the big dance”, that occurs each March to crown the men’s college basketball champion.

That’s one of the beautiful things about being a sports fan, there are multiple times throughout the year where you get that giddy, Christmas morning feeling. And this tournament certainly provides that for millions of people across the country.

The first week of games is purely magical.

Ever since the tournament expanded from 64 teams to 68, games start even earlier. This year they start March 17-18. The Thursday to Sunday following is pure basketball bliss. Games run from essentially noon to midnight Eastern Time.

It’s what man-caves are built for.

For those of you gearing up to fill out your brackets after “Selection Sunday,” keep in mind that one team from “the first four” usually make it to the second weekend of the tournament.

Speaking of brackets, while they won’t be officially released until Sunday evening, I’ve started a private group on ESPN.com for the Indian Country Today staff to compete and have some fun with our readers.

(I’ll talk to the powers that be to see if the winner of the group can get some Indian Country Today swag to make it worth it.)

All you need to do is go to the “Tournament Challenge” page on ESPN.com and search for the group name - “Indian Country Today.”

You will be prompted to enter a password, which is “indiancountry” all lowercase and you will entered!

That’s it. If you have any questions or struggle to get in, please reach out to me! I would love to get as many of our readers to join as possible.

While the world continues to grapple with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, it will be very interesting to see how soon the decision is made to allow fans into the game or not. The way things are going, it’s hard to see the NCAA postponing the tournament all together but empty arenas are certainly a possibility.

Talk about interesting optics, right?

The Final Four is set to be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. The seating capacity is 71,000 for a football game and you could probably add up to 5,000 seats for how they would situate a basketball court on the field.

The only comparable thing I could think of that would give a sense to what it would be like is what happened in April 2015, when the Chicago White Sox played the Baltimore Orioles in a game that was closed to the public.

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According to the media that was present and the players, it was one of the more eerie things they had ever taken part in during their professional careers.

Decisions are going to need to be made soon and my guess would be, at least for the first weekend and maybe the second, games are going to be closed to the public.

With no crowds present, I think it will be fun as to how much audio the microphones on the court pick up from players and coaches. I love some good trash talking.

As for my take on what’s going to actually play out and who will win, it’s hard to say. This has been one of those college basketball years where there is no clear front-runner that has separated themselves from the rest of the country.

Per usual, I will probably end up taking Duke to win but they have been shaky at times over the course of the year. Not a lock by any means.

Another nugget of advice you can take or leave, don’t trust the Gonzaga Bulldogs. I’ve always had respect for what head coach Mark Few has been able to accomplish there during his tenure but they can never quite seem to get over that championship hump.

Also, there is usually at least one 12-seed that upsets a 5-seed in the Round of 64 but your guess is as good as mine as to who it will be.

Lastly, for what it’s worth, 2008 was the only year in tournament history where all four number one seeds made it to the Final Four. So keep that in mind before you go with the best teams.

It’s hard to speculate until the actual bracket is released. Someone always gets snubbed and one powerhouse has a cakewalk to the Final Four. We’ll find all that out together this Sunday.

Until then, enjoy conference championship week. The real fun is right around the corner!

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Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/Gros Ventre is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports and lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email - kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

Support Indian Country Today by becoming a member. Click here.

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