68 Reasons To Be Excited About the NCAA Tournament

Ah yes, it’s March, that glorious time of year where you pretend that you’ve been watching college basketball for the last four months… only to look at your bracket, shake your head and mutter stuff like “Stony Brook? Isn’t that where I took my kids fishing the other day?”

No it’s not, and if the NCAA Tournament crept up on you, well, no need to worry, that’s why we’re here.

We can’t help you fill out your bracket, tell you which 12 seed is going to beat a 5, or why the hell Kentucky was given a four-seed, when everyone in America (and many in Canada as well) know they deserve better than that. But what we can do is get you fired up for the big dance…. by giving you 68 reasons to be excited about the NCAA Tournament.

1. Charles Barkley on the touch screen: Yes, the selection show was brutal, and yes it went like an hour-and-a-half too long, but you know what? Who cares, because it gave us Charles Barkley on the touch screen… which wasn’t just fun, but arguably the single greatest moment of television in 2016.

It also raises the question: Can we get Charles working the touch screen before, during and after every game this tournament? I’m pretty sure that would be more entertaining than any of the games themselves.

2. John Calipari: Who absolutely went berserk on ESPN Sunday night, and who was absolutely correct with everything he said.

Honestly, I hope Kentucky stays in the tournament as long as possible… if only because who’s more entertaining than Calipari?  

3. Jim Boeheim: Who followed up the Calipari interview Sunday with his own interview, which will go down as the single most boring four minutes in the history of television. Hey coach, your team just back-doored their way into the Big Dance, can we get a little bit of excitement? Please?

4. Speaking of Calipari’s rant: I know he was joking, but how awesome would it be if the NCAA Tournament actually did have a regional in Anchorage? I mean, that’s got to be better than Spokane, right?

5. This picture of Roy Williams: Which will go down as the second greatest mid-life crisis ever, behind that one time my dad opened a SnapChat account. 

6. Houston: Indisputably the worst city in America to host a major sporting event, yet has its second Final Four in five years. Tell me again why every Final Four isn’t in New Orleans? Like honestly, has anyone ever complained about going to New Orleans too much?  

7. Utah’s Jakob Poeltl: Who is easily my favorite 7’0 Austrian in this year’s Big Dance.

8. Noted NCAA Tournament “choker” Bill Self: Fun fact: Did you know that Self actually has more tournament wins (26) over the last nine years than noted “coaching genius” Mike Krzyzewski does (20)? But hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?  

Speaking of Coach K, how about…

9. The Duke Blue Devils: Who somehow ended up with a No. 4 seed, despite the fact that, umm, their resume says that they absolutely, positively didn’t warrant it. Nope, nothing suspicious to see here, folks. Let’s move on.

10. A potential Cal-Maryland matchup in the second round: I have no idea if it will happen, but if it does, it will be an absolute bloodbath.

Same with…

11. A potential Indiana-Kentucky matchup in the second round: Which might turn into a literal bloodbath. As in, someone might actually get hurt in the stands. Do you have any idea how much these two fan-bases hate each other?

Same with…

12. A potential Texas-Texas A&M matchup in Round 2: My God, do you have no shame selection committee? If Kentucky-Indiana might lead to fights in the stands, this one could be the start of another Civil War.

13. The city of Des Moines: Which I would argue was the biggest winner of Selection Sunday… after getting Kansas, UConn, Kentucky and Indiana all sent to their sub-region. Honestly, that’s got to be the single greatest thing that’s ever happened to Des Moines, right? Is there even a close second?  

14. The Seton Hall Pirates: Who became everyone’s “dark horse to make a deep tournament run” so quickly, that they seem destined to lose in the first round to Gonzaga.

15. Fresno State: Who is in the tournament for the first time since Jerry Tarkanian was their coach… which led me to wonder, could you imagine Tarkanian coaching in the Twitter era? TMZ would have to set up a satellite office in Fresno just to keep up with everything that was going on out there.  

16. The Yale Bulldogs: Who are in their first NCAA Tournament in 54 years… and who will produce roughly 54,000 “Revenge of the Nerds” headlines if they somehow upset Baylor in Round 1.  

17. Mike Brey’s beard: Which I would argue was America’s single greatest natural resource since oil was discovered in Alaska. I mean it truly was glorious. Right up until he shaved it the other day.

To which I ask: Coach, what were you thinking?  You looked spectacular, like a young Dos Equis guy!  It’s not too late to bring the beard back for the tournament!

18. Jamal Murray’s bow-and-arrow: Which might go down as the single greatest sports celebration since “The Dirty Bird.”

19. Tyler Ulis: Who gives every 5’9 guy in America hope that maybe there is more for us in life than just being accountants and unfunny internet sportswriters. Forget the fact that I’m 30 and not very athletic. Maybe I too can make it to the NBA someday.

20. The Iowa State Cyclones: Who lost Fred Hoiberg in the off-season, and lost their identity somewhere around mid-season. Put those two things together and it raises an interesting question: Was this the rare instance where both coach and team would be better off if they’d stuck together?

21. Denzel Valentine: Who has no more than six games left in his college career. There’s no joke to make here, I’m just sad to see him go.  

Same with…

22. Buddy Hield: Who has the worst hair, the prettiest jump shot, and the greatest buzzer beater in the history of college that didn’t count. By the way, how great is this picture from the other night?  

23. Kris Dunn: Who could have gone to the NBA after last season and been a late first round draft pick, but who instead decided to come back to school for another year, and now will likely end up as a Top 5 pick. In the process he also proved that the answer isn’t always to run to the NBA as soon as possible.

24. Florida Gulf Coast: Who returns to the tournament for the first time since their “Dunk City” days, and who just might pull off another Cinderell — ok, who are we kidding? They’re going to get smoked by North Carolina in Round 1.

25. Andy Enfield: Who coached Florida Gulf Coast in their last NCAA Tournament run, and who is back in the Big Dance with USC, and who has a team that just might… ok, who are we kidding? They’re going to get smoked by North Carolina in Round 2.

26. The East Region of Doom: Two days ago, I thought North Carolina, Xavier, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky were all amongst a handful of teams that could make the Final Four… at least until the bracket was released, and they all ended up in the same region. Once again, Sunday was a really banner evening for the committee.

27. Gary Payton II: Who has gotten Oregon State into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990, when the Beavers were led by… you guessed it, his father Gary Payton!

One, that’s a really cool story.

And two, I’m genuinely excited for the Beavers next tournament run in 2039, when they’re led by Gary Payton III.

28. The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders: Who are coached by a man named “Kermit.”

And to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

29. The Vanderbilt Commodores: Who probably shouldn’t be in the tournament, got in, and are now starting to get hype as a team that could potentially make a real run… which means they’ll almost certainly lose to Wichita State by 30 in the play-in game. Kevin Stallings really is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t he?

30. Frank Haith: Who has avoided punishment in about six different NCAA investigations, and somehow backdoored Tulsa into the tournament this March. Honestly, this guy must have been Mother Teresa in another life, because he has more lives than a cat.

31. The Monmouth Hawks: Who… oh wait, never mind. They’re not in the tournament, because apparently wins over USC, Notre Dame, Georgetown and UCLA weren’t good enough for the committee. Cool. Gotcha. Again, nothing to see here.

32. Wayne Selden’s uncle: I don’t care who wins the tournament. This guy has been the breakout star of March. 

33. Wayne Selden himself: First he sat behind Andrew Wiggins for a year. Then he sat behind Kelly Oubre for another year. But rather than complaining, or transferring, or leaving for the NBA before he was ready, he just busted his butt and kept getting better. How can you not root for a guy like that?  

34. Grayson Allen: Who proves that even in 2016, and even when the Blue Devils are lousy, it’s still, always ok to hate Duke.

35. South Dakota State: Who I know absolutely nothing about, but honestly, how can you not root for a team nicknamed the Jackrabbits?

Same with…

36. Cal-State Bakersfield: Which is known as the “Roadrunners.”

Honestly, isn’t March great?

37. Indiana senior Yogi Ferrell: Who seems like he broke into college basketball right around the same time as Isaiah Thomas did at Indiana, yet who I’m going to somehow miss when he’s gone next season. In a year where everyone wants to talk about Hield, Dunn and Valentine, this guy has quietly been as good as any of them.

38. UConn’s Jalen Adams: Who I would argue, given the circumstances, threw in the single craziest shot in college basketball the history the other day.

If he misses it, UConn is probably out of the tournament. Admit it Kansas fans, you’re kind of a little bit terrified of the Huskies, aren’t you?

39. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard: I’ll be honest, when Gard was named interim coach at Wisconsin I thought he was more likely to be selling knives door-to-door next fall than actually coaching the Badgers. Only Wisconsin in the tournament, and Gard has done a spectacular job as coach.

As for his former boss…

40. How about Bo Ryan: Who isn’t in the NCAA Tournament but still managed to produce arguably the single most surprising sex scandal in the history of sex scandals. Seriously, who saw that one coming?

41. Me: Fun fact: Did you know that Kansas enters the tournament as the favorite to win it all at 5-1? Another fun fact: Did you know that I bet Kansas at 18-1 last May to win the title?

I’m not calling myself a genius… ok, that’s exactly what I’m calling myself.

Also, me simply sharing that fun fact means that Kansas is almost certainly destined to lose in the first weekend of the tournament.

42. Iowa-Temple: Which might go down as the least exciting, most wildly un-compelling game in NCAA Tournament history. Honestly, I think I’d rather visit the proctologist than watch this one from beginning to end.  

43. The Villanova Wildcats: If they can’t accomplish a deep tournament run this year, when will they?!

44. Oregon’s Chris Boucher: Who has the wildest back story of maybe any player in the NCAA Tournament. Seriously, read this article and tell me how can you not root for a kid like that?

45. Same with Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan: For all the talk about how awful college sports are, how come stories like this never get brought up?

46. Virginia: Who plays a style of play only your grandpa could love, but who also has enough damn talent to win the whole thing.

That is of course…

47. If the Committee Didn’t Hate Virginia: I mean the committee has to hate Virginia, right? How else can you explain placing them in the same bracket as Michigan State for a third year in a row, after the Spartans knocked them out the last two? Has any school ever been less excited about getting a No. 1 seed?

48. Xavier coach Chris Mack: Fun fact: Did you know Mack’s first job in coaching was with the JV team at an all-girls high school? Another fun fact: Did you know I’ve been rooting for Mack ever since I heard that story?  

49. Bob Huggins’ wind breaker: Which has single handedly set back fashion at least 30 years. Hey coach, I know you want to be comfortable, but you’re making like $2 million a year. Can we at least get you a shirt with buttons? Please? Honestly, I’ll help pay for it.

50. Kansas’ Frank Mason and Devonte Graham: Who, under different circumstances could be playing at Towson and Appalachian State respectively, but instead find themselves as two key cogs to a potential title run. Funny how life works out sometimes.

51. Tom Crean: Who has pulled off the rare feat of beginning the season on the hot seat… coaching himself off it… only to end up right back on it if he loses to Kentucky in the first weekend of the tournament. Not sure how that’s possible, but hey coach, if you need help with your resume, just holler!   

52. Ben Simmons and the LSU Tig— : Oh wait, never mind. The Ben Simmons era is over at LSU after the Tigers not only missed the tournament, but turned down an NIT bid too (because hey, it’s not like every plater not named “Ben Simmons” couldn’t have used an extra game or two, right?). And while Simmons will take the brunt of the blame for this disaster of a season, I stand by what I said a month ago: Blame Johnny Jones.  

Speaking of Simmons, you’ve also got to love…

53. The Brandon Ingram truthers out there: Look, I love Brandon Ingram as much as the next guy, I really do. But can we stop with the “Brandon Ingram is going to jump Ben Simmons as the No. 1 pick” talk? It isn’t going to happen. Ever. So let’s just cut it out, OK?

54. Shaka Smart: Who left VCU, went to Texas, and still won the award for “coolest coach in college basketball” for like the sixth straight year.  

55. The Pitt Panthers: It must be March when we’re trying to figure out what new and glorious ways Pitt will disappoint their fans in the NCAA Tournament.   

56. Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead: Who I like to describe as “exactly like Lance Stephenson,” if Lance Stephenson were actually likeable.

57. Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer: Who began his career playing at Kentucky… with Anthony Davis. To which I ask: How is that possible? I feel like Anthony Davis played college basketball 30 years ago!

58. The Maryland Terrapins: Who have more NBA talent than the Brooklyn Nets, and who seem absolutely destined to be out of the tournament before the end of the first weekend.

59. Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes: Who, if Michigan State makes a deep tournament run, will become the Tim Tebow and Riley Cooper of college basketball…. as in, do you remember when Tebow and Cooper played at Florida, and the media used to love to play up the fact that they were roommates and best friends? Yeah, the same thing is going to happen this March if Michigan State makes it to Houston.

60. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery: Who is like your surly uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table… if your surly uncle made a couple million dollars a year coaching college basketball.

61. Buffalo: Who I’m hoping makes a deep tournament run… because if you lived in Buffalo, would you be in a rush to get back there this time of year?

62. Stephen F. Austin coach Brad Underwood: Who didn’t get his first head coaching job until he was 49, and has proceeded to win 81 percent of his game since then. No joke to make here. As the kids say, play on, playa!

(Do kids still say that?)

63. Scott Drew: Who continues to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, even as he continues to put together the single greatest rebuilding job in the history of college basketball. Seriously, read this and tell me what Drew is doing at Baylor isn’t borderline miraculous?

64. Stony Brook: Who is making their first tournament appearance in school history and honestly, what’s cooler than that?

65. Cal freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb: Who will become one of the stories of the NCAA Tournament if the Golden Bears make a deep tournament run.

66. Cal veterans Ty Wallace, Jabari Bird and Jordan Matthews: Who won’t get any credit if the Golden Bears make a deep tournament run, but who are just as important to Cal’s success as the freshmen are.

67. The Final Four: I couldn’t end this article without giving you Final Four picks that are destined to fail, right? So with that said, the first glance at the bracket gives me a Final Four of North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan State and Oregon. I know, I know, really original.  

That also means…

68. Kansas is your 2016 National Champion: I bet on them in May, so I can’t back-off now, right?

Aaron Torres is a contributor to Outkick the Coverage and FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_TorresFacebook or e-mail at mailto:ATorres00@gmail.com

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

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