When I told a friend of mine - let's call him Jack - that I was taking the week off from basketball, I received the expected response."You're never going to make 100!"
he exclaimed. "Never! Never! Woooohahahaha!"
Well, "Jack," you don't know...
Before there was a Mid-Majority, before there was a 100 Games Project
, before there were reporters who called to ask me what makes me tick, there was NCA March Magic®
. The name, which carefully tiptoes around copyright laws with the deftness of a enterprising small-town car dealership, is not registered with the federal government. I wrote it on an index card last February and sent it to myself in a sealed, postmarked envelope - that never holds up in court, but I had to do something
to protect my valuable intellectual property.NCA March Magic®
is the culmination of all our efforts so far. It's what everything has been pointing towards since November. Conference tournaments are the summit of the college basketball season for mid-majors - all but a select few will find themselves victims of 30-point blowouts at the hands of power-conference teams when the blinding CBS TV lights come on, and so this is the time for the champions of the lower 23 leagues to shine.
Last year's inaugural edition of NCAMM® saw 25 games in eight short days. I attended full slates of games at the MAAC, Northeast, Patriot, MEAC, Colonial, Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Big Ten and Mid-American on my way to 82 games
. I got the first speeding ticket in my 31 years of earthly existence (85 mph) trying to make it to Indianapolis' Conseco Fieldhouse for a noon tipoff.
Another tradition is attended to on the 9th: the opening round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. Back when the A-10 called Philly's Spectrum home, I loved to take that Wednesday off and watch all four games. This will be the sixth year in the past seven that I've taken part in this conference's opening day. And then, it's off to Cleveland for the final three rounds of the Mid-American tournament. It will also be a veritable blogging convention at the Gund: we'll be visiting with Tim the Hoop Junkie
, and Tony from The Blast Furnace
(who's more of a baseball blogger, but a great guy). It will likely be the most heated conference tourney of all, with the most at stake - eight will become four, which will become two, and then a champion. I'll cover it all, and see first-hand if any at-large dreams emerge from the deep and evenly-matched MAC field.
Twenty-four games, eight days, 2400 miles, two floor-stormings. When NCA March Magic®
is complete and Selection Sunday is upon us, the 100 Games Project will stand at 94
. We will be a single first/second-round Tournament ticket strip (Worcester, Cleveland or Charlotte) away from glory, and failing that there will be a mad dash to the finish that involves NIT games. While the latter option has more buzzer-beating intrigue, we have our obvious preferences.
While I'm on the road, Tourney Central
will continue daily operation, covering all the small-conference tourneys around the nation. The game recaps for games 71-94 will be a lot shorter than usual because of volume and mileage, but of course there will be plenty of pictures.
So please follow along, won't you? NCA March Magic®
... feel the magic of mid-major basketball™.