Column: Coming down with a bad case of March Madness |

Column: Coming down with a bad case of March Madness

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Did you find yourself drawn to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinal between Niagara and Rider on Sunday night?

Instead of preparing your income taxes, did you get pulled into the tight affair waged by Army and American University?

Just maybe you capped your weekend by watching the return of Patty Mills for St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference tournament.

If any of these single-minded college basketball-watching tendencies describe you, then you likely have come down with a severe case of March Madness. For the real college basketball fans, it’s something that is contracted before the brackets are handed out.

As championship week progresses, you’ll find yourself watching schools you’ve never heard of from the Northeast Conference, Southland Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference and Mid-American Conference. Don’t be alarmed. The championships for the Pac-10, Big-10, Big East, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference will soon follow.

By Sunday afternoon as the Selection Show sorts things out, you may fall into a depression that will last all of two days, when the NCAA tournament play-in game tips off. Unless Mount St. Mary’s or Cornell decides to hold up the president’s secret stimulus package. The brain trust in those schools might question whether it’s fair that two schools are required to participate in a play-in game and 63 others aren’t.

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In a clear-headed moment, you wonder why the NCAA doesn’t add more teams to the tournament, creating additional play-in games and fewer disappointments?

If you somehow miss the play-in game on the bracket that you’ll hand in a day later, you should never have trouble finding a pool to enter in the future.

When the privileged teams of the tournament begin play on the morning of March 18, you’ll find yourself coming down with a case of the mountain flu and a need to spend the day with your flat screen.

By midafternoon on the opening day of the tournament, you curse CBS for taking a two-hour break before the evening session of games. Hours later, when the first day of action is done, you are delirious because there will be no Midnight Madness. Why can’t the next wave of games begin at midnight? Schools start their seasons this way, why can’t they end them in this manner, too?

With your co-workers counting on your presence the next day, you plan to work as close to the company TV as possible. Will they notice that you are only working during commercials? What will they say when you go home for lunch instead of joining them at the nearest sub shop and then fail to return?

“He’s gone mad,” they will surely say.

And he won’t get better until after the championship is played on April 6.

Enjoy the madness.

” Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or