For the next three weeks, let’s forget about all that is wrong with sports, and more specifically college sports. Put on hold the complaints about the exploitation of student athletes, the arbitrary rulings of the NCAA hierarchy and the culture that promotes athletic achievement over scholastic success. Ignore the tendencies we have to celebrate young men as heroes only to spit them out later as villainous scapegoats. Instead, embrace the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for what it is: the most exciting and dramatic multi-game sporting event in the United States.
March Madness is everything that spectators want sports to be. Upsets, buzzer beaters, foul trouble, swagger and posture. The heart-beating blindness of anticipation. The vicarious elation of triumph. The devastating free fall of defeat. And these are just the qualities that we’ve come to expect. Despite being an annual event with a finite number of potential outcomes, every year the tournament brings with it a fantastic share of surprises.
It’s immense. And it all begins on Tuesday (or Thursday, depending on how you look at it). Here, for your edification, is everything you need to know about the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.