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BLOG: It's the most wonderful time of the year! The madness is upon us

"It's the most wonderful time of the year"

I have been singing this all day.  NO, it's not Christmas time.  It's March 1st.  The madness is upon us folks!

Most fans instantly think of the NCAA tournament but these conference tournament games can be drama filled because for most teams, it's do or die.  Win it all to keep the season going.  One bad night and it's time to plan spring break.  

College basketball conference tournaments start this week and the one I will pay attention to locally is the Big South Tournament.  They will crown a champ Sunday and the winner of the Big South will be one of the first teams to punch their tickets to the NCAA Tournament.

My pick is Winthrop.  They have been in the championship game of the Big South tournament the last 3 years only to lose in the finals.  Coach Pat Kelsey's team will get it done this time around.  They won a share of the regular season title and got the #1 seed in the tournament which means if they do make it to the title game, it will be played in Winthrop Coliseum.  Advantage Eagles!  They will "Rock the Hill" all the way into the NCAA tournament.  But it won't be easy as UNC Asheville, Liberty, Gardner-Webb, and High Point all have a legit shot at cutting down the nets.

Most of the bigger tournaments will start next week including the ACC, SEC, Big 10, PAC 12, etc, etc, etc.  

I'm ready for the buzzer beaters, the crazy comebacks, the crying fans once their team blows said lead.  It makes for great theater folks.

But it doesn't end there.  After conference tourneys comes the NCAA tournament and the 2017 tournament could be another classic much like last year.  Of course, it will be hard to top the way last season ended with Villanova shocking North Carolina with a buzzer beater to win their 2nd ever National Championship.  Sorry for bringing that up Carolina fans, but get ready... me saying it will not be as bad as the amount of times you will have to see it in the next 31 days.

For the second straight year, there really is no favorite to win it all.  It is a wide open field which means, NO ONE will have a perfect bracket after we make our picks on selection Sunday.  Heck, I doubt if I even get 2 of the Final Four, but that won't steal my joy of watching the tournament.

Every team in the field of 68 has a shot in 2017... even a Cinderella team.  Well, maybe I'm going a little bit too far but I would say half the field does have enough talent to be a legit contender for the National Championship and that's the way I like it.  

Survive and advance!  One game-- one chance-- have a bad day and you are done.  There is no better time for sports than the month of March.  

So once again I sing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year."

For any basketball junkie, this month is paradise.  For those of you who are not, my apologies and we can talk again April 4th right after the National Championship game.

But catch me before April 6th which is the first round of the Masters-- golf's first major of the year.

NATE

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