March Madness Scores a Win for the Underdogs


Credit: Wikipedia.

Villanova may have won, but March Madness had a deeper message for young athletes this year.

 March Madness is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournaments. The tournaments, which took place from March 15-April 2, are invite-only for Division 1 schools; acceptance into the games is determined by a team’s success during the regular season.

This year, there were 66 teams participating, including UCLA, Kentucky, Duke, Michigan, and Florida State.

Katy Briedis, who is in on her second year of teaching math at Williston, played basketball at SUNY Potsdam in Potsdam, New York. Briedis made it into the top 10 all time scoring at her college, and was an assistant coach at Averett University in Danville, Virginia, for two years.

“A lot of upsets!” Briedis said, about the numerous unexpected wins by lower seeds. “They’ve been incredible. You can never assume anything about a team especially when they make it to the NCAA tournament.”

She said forward Marek Dolezaj, a small forward on Syracuse, surprised her.

“The guy was averaging four points a game before and only twice in the season made it to double digits,” she said. “Then in the post season, he had 19 points in one game, 17 points another game and he came out of nowhere.”

Dolezaj, Briedis said, exemplified the true spirit of March Madness. “Any given day, as long as you play hard, you can win a game,” she said. “And this March Madness has proved that more than any!”

Even though this month is full of basketball and competition, Matthew Porter, a Social Psychology teacher at Williston, believes there is a bigger message behind the games for younger athletes looking to “make it big.”

“I think a lot of teens now going through the recruiting process are caught up in going into Alabama and the big schools instead of schools that might be a better fit for them,” he said. “I don’t have problems with your dream being part of a professional sport. I think that March Madness should open people’s eyes to see that you don’t need to go to the biggest and best school to get seen.”

“Look at Loyola [University] Chicago, and then look at Duke and Kentucky and look at where all the ‘top schools’ — look where they are,” he said. “I think people to see that at any given time, anyone can win a game.”