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March 19, 2009, 08:15 AM ET
Chat Today, PLUS Drama, Magnitude, Finality

by John Gasaway

Join me today for the live chat thing as the tournament tips off. Click here starting at noon Eastern to go live or do it earlier and submit your question in advance. I did this same time slot last year and, with actual NCAA games in progress, the conversation becomes a really nice blend of meandering chat and focused collective spectating. Drop by. 

And because I believe that no Unfiltered post should be limited to a shameless plug for a chat, please indulge me while I carry a tradition forward:

The tournament starts in earnest today when LSU tips off against Butler at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. And so at 12:20 Eastern beings the best sporting event of the year. By far….

Every November, when college football is once again twisting itself into noisy, bewildering, and futile BCS knots trying to determine who will play for the national championship, I thank the bracket gods for giving us such a beautifully Euclidean way of determining who will play for the national championship.

Every May and June, when the NBA inflicts upon us “playoffs” that occupy about as much time as the Crimean War (I especially appreciate the leisurely pauses between first-round games, drawing out the suspense of that tense Lakers-Nuggets series), I thank the bracket gods for giving us such a tidy three-week method of going from 340+ to 65 to one.

Every February, when the NFL presents a Super Bowl that feels so oddly disconnected from and unrelated to an actual football game, I thank the bracket gods for giving us tournament games that are the very epitome of college hoops (Laettner, Drew, et al.).

Every October, when baseball gives us its best games in indigestible four-hour slabs in the dark of late-night in game-altering 30-degree weather, I thank the bracket gods for selecting their champion in two-hour installments in precisely the right game-enhancing venues (neutral floors, opposing fans, opposing bands, etc.).

And every October 15, I thank the bracket gods for starting the cycle anew.

“Drama, magnitude and finality” has been lifted from those estimable wordsmiths at the Supreme Court, ruling against President Truman some 57 years ago. I think the Supremes of a previous century would happily concede that theirs is a better description of March than of what they thought they were describing (the presidency).

Starting today, each game is the most important game of the year. Each game eliminates one more team. And there will be one fewer game than there are teams.

This morning it’s all still in front of us.  

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