March Sadness 2020

Today is the Ides of March, and this time
something bigger than Caesar has been killed.

Like a prior post about the 3pt shot, the topic is college basketball, but specifically  “March Madness,” the NCAA Tournament. Today should have featured the selection of 68 teams to compete for the championship.

The Sunday “Selection Show,” with its reveal of the tournament bracket, tips off three upcoming weekends of action, glory, surprises, reflection, deflections, perfection, and escape. For some (me) it is bigger than Olympics, World Cup, World Series, Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, Christmas, birthdays, New Years’ Eve, you-name-it! Yes, even Hamilton Musical.

Maybe killing March Madness
isn’t “bigger than Caesar”
but today I lament…

the cancellation that brought March Sadness.

'Twas the Night of Selections 2020
'Twas the night of Selections
and all through the land
Basketball had been dealt
its most pressing hand.

Now what to our wonder-
ing eyes should appear
A bracket that's empty
'Tis a victim of fear.

The West was expected
to emerge with a swagga'
With Aztecs, Ducks, and
top-seeded Gonzaga.

Sink a shot from afar
Make a bracket buster
It's a shot from China
That sank our muster.

Games sputtered and
stopped; life's amiss
Arenas are shuttered
What joy we will miss.

No buzzer beaters
Nor upset heroics
No shining moments
No fans, just Stoics.

The Ones and all
Are Done; 'tis all 
Seniors, alas, have
bounced their last ball.

"The Final Four® isn't on
the schedule;" life's askew
We never imagined the
words of Izzo* this true.
*Tom Izzo, coach of Michigan State University Spartans Men’s Basketball, reminds players they have to earn their way to the NCAA Tournament and win difficult games over two weekends to become one of the Final Four® teams. It is not pre-ordained by the schedule that one gets to play in that culminating event.
Then there was the expectation I had prepared for today:
'Tis the Night of Selections 
(that might have been)
‘Tis the night of selections and all thru hoops land,
We’re eager for brackets to clutch in our hands.
Fitting we greet them with great adoration
They mark the start of season’s culmination.

The week that passed determined leagues’ best,
Those that survived face their next big test.
Many hopes soared, some hearts were broken
Someone snuck in, which cost another a token.

And soon to our wondering eyes it appears –
The worshipped grid from ten chosen seers.
We never tire hearing favorite names,
And listen closely as sixty-eight they proclaim.

On Wildcats! Down Devils!
Gooooo Tigers! The Bluejays,
The Jayhawks! The Spartans!
The Hoosiers are back!

While out of the West
With a bit of a swagga’
Come Bruins, Ducks, and
Top seed Gonzaga.

One-seeds are favored; Sixteen no chance?
Still each and all say, “Just let me Dance!”
Grids to be filled by experts and non,
Everyone picks, even dear ol’ Mom.

Armed with stat sheets and sacred bracket
I prepare my brain for all that will task it.
Won-loss means little if you're making a bet
RPI has gone missing, you'll find nothing but NET.

And then with an inkling I fill in my sheet
of integrity for all though fearing defeat.
As I take up my lounger and am settling down
Along comes a 3-ball, from way, way downtown!

The scores shine brightly
The spreads also matter
Upsetting a favorite
Makes some wallets fatter.

The brackets get busted from 16 to one
What order was built will all come undone.
Our teams and our picks equally tracked
A quartet survives, not looking back.

So goes this spectacle of sheer delight
March Madness for all … our annual** rite!
**Annual, once upon a time.

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