Our final segment in our feature series from the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee from correspondent Josh Vinson
Milwaukee, WI—- It’s that time of year where everyone fills out their brackets and project teams to make it to the Final Four. This year has had a lot of March Madness with Mercer upsetting Duke, and Dayton taking out both Ohio State and Syracuse. These wins have brought upon emotions on both ends on the spectrum. Though, we all know that someone has to win and someone has to lose, however a lot is riding on these student athletes.
Some of the athletes this is the end of the line for them. They’ve played at a high level but not at a high enough level to play on the professional stage. So winning and becoming a national champion is the dream that just ended for them.
Arizona State played against Texas and came from behind to potentially win the game. It all ended on the last play. Both teams tied at 75 and Texas has the ball. A missed shot by Jonathon Holmes and Cameron Ridley comes up with the ball and makes the game winning shot. The crowd erupts with joy and the sadness is shown by looking at the Arizona State’s bench. Players laying on the floor faces covered in sadness and tears flowing. Not of joy or relief, but of disappointment. You play a hard regular season and have a lot of seniors on the team and with a chance to win the game, you lose on the last play. It’s hard to get over that.
To the general public, your brackets are either busted , or you called that win. Fans never get the chance to see what it’s like to be in the losing teams locker rooms. To see the flowing tears of a young college athlete that has to go through the rest of the offseason not being able to participate in the tourney until next year, if there is a next year. Players holding onto each other in the agony of defeat, seeing a dream they’ve worked so hard for be taken away by the bounce of the ball. They spend the entire season thinking about the final play and what they could have done differently and taking full blame. They are being told that this lost doesn’t tarnish the entire season, but that’s a tough pill to swallow because their team have been eliminated from the tournament.
So the next time you fill out that bracket, make sure you understand that it may be a busted bracket for you, but for some of these student-athletes, this is the end of the line. This is the end of a dream that they focused on the entire season, and now it’s over. What do they do now? What is their legacy? It’s the part of the game that makes NCAA basketball so unique. It’s what drives fans every March to get their pens ready and fill out out brackets and try and predict what team will make it through it all.