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As Long as We Remember...

March 20, 2008

Must be Something in the Water

Edward Lulie III

March Madness doesn’t mean taxpayers getting into a fevered frenzy over the coming of April 15th and tax time…well not yet anyway. It means a nationwide obsession with college basketball and the NCAA tournament that starts today with 64 teams and eventually winds down to the final four, and then the championship game.


It’s a great time to watch a lot of really good athletes play basketball. For many years – if you lived in Maryland – your major hope of a “local” team making the NCAA’s was the University of Maryland. At least it was if you wanted a Maryland team. Not this year.


The University of Maryland won its first post season game; sadly it was in the National Invitational Tournament, not in the NCAA’s. The Terps just couldn’t close the deal with inconsistent and at times just awful play.


No hope, eh? But wait, there are several other Maryland teams in the NCAA Tournament, and one is from our own Frederick County.


That team is Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers. They are now 19-14 and heading into a contest with No. 1-ranked North Carolina. They already have notched their first Division One tournament win ever; and they did it by beating another team from Maryland, Coppin State, out of Baltimore.


What is going on here? Did anyone expect that Coppin State would be in the NCAA before the Terps? Or the Mountaineers? Anyone believe a month ago that either one of them would be the ones playing legendary North Carolina in their second NCAA game this year?


And when I looked at the schedule my eyes widened in further disbelief as there is yet another Maryland team playing in the NCAA’s, The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers are playing #2 seeded Georgetown.


It must be something in the water. I cannot remember anytime that Maryland had so many teams in the NCAA tournament.


So root for them. Take a moment and enjoy the fact that for once the unsung, the little noticed, and largely ignored smaller schools stood up and went toe to toe with the giants. Heck one of them might even win, but to me they have all already won by merely making the NCAA Tournament.


They get to hear their names discussed (and usually dismissed, but, hey, that’s part of being an underdog) on ESPN and other sports shows. They have done something remarkable and unusual and every student, teacher, parent, administrator and alumnae can stand proudly and cheer.


Well done, excellent work all. Maybe they can ship some of that water down to College Park for next season. Gary Williams could use some.


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