March madness is upon us.
While millions of Americans scribble on their brackets what teams will take home the national crown, it’s inevitable that those very same college basketball enthusiasts will be pounding their foam fingers in anger after a presumed favorite falls to a lowly team from a smaller school and ruins what would have been a pool-winning bracket.
But there is one thing that should be realized when speaking of what analysts have dubbed “Cinderella teams.”
The underdogs have grueling off-season practice schedules just like the major programs do. They show up to the arena the same way the larger school does. They lace their shoes up just like any other player. So why are they considered to be less of a team?
Once the ball goes into the air, all presumed advantages go out the window.
Just ask Duke who fell to Virginia Commonwealth. Or the Wisconsin Badgers who saw their title hopes dashed with a loss to UNLV.
Truth be told, there may be favorites, but there are no guarantees.
That’s why every team deserves the courtesy of being recognized as a good basketball team, not a lucky one. It’s insulting to assume that a team that works just as hard as everyone else, but fails to garner the university support and recruiting advantages available to a larger school, won because of an invisible omen.
It is fair to assume that maybe, just maybe, smaller schools have the athletic fortitude to overcome and legitimately challenge the media-ordained favorites.
The story of the underdog is one that is often over-told. That’s one good reason it shouldn’t be told during the NCAA tournament.
Akeem Anderson for the Editorial Board.