In my world the NCAA Tournament will still proceed

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/20/20

One of my earliest recollections of sports as a child was David Thompson and N.C. State defeating UCLA in Greensboro in the semi-finals of the 1974 NCAA Tournament on the way to winning the national …

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In my world the NCAA Tournament will still proceed

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Andy Katz's NCAA 2020 Bracket
Andy Katz's NCAA 2020 Bracket
NCAA.com
Posted

One of my earliest recollections of sports as a child was David Thompson and N.C. State defeating UCLA in Greensboro in the semi-finals of the 1974 NCAA Tournament on the way to winning the national title a few nights later.

To say the NCAA Tournament and March Madness has been a part of my life, and basically every Chatham County resident’s life, one way or another, would be an understatement.

Now for the first time ever, we are facing a Thursday-through-Sunday this week with no action. Zero. The balls have been racked, the lights turned off, the tickets voided. You name it, all has been canceled.

It’s left me and others just feeling — for no other terms — weird, strange, almost in an alternate universe.

Never in my lifetime have I experienced this strangeness, sort of an emptiness that the lack of sports have left me due to the coronavirus. I understand the precautions, though I’m not fully sold on just what is going on and the severity of the situation, and only time will answer all my questions. But I do know it’s been a week like I’ve never experienced in my life.

I’ve had a conversation with a few WWII guys over the weekend, and they related to me that this doesn’t compare overall to those times, but it does have the same feeling that the world is just off kilter.

And it’s hard to shake that feeling. Locally, high school sports have been halted, eight state champions in both girls and boys basketball were not crowned last weekend, and now spring sports are on hold to at least April 7.

But even with that, had March Madness proceeded I think most of us would have still felt some sense of normalcy.

Well, at the suggestion of a few coaches and friends, the NCAA Tournament will be played out over the next few weeks, at least in our sports section.

I’ve listed famed bracketologist Andy Katz’s final tournament projections before things came to a thud of a halt last week. And we will wade through the tournament round by round...

Of local note, Florida State leads the ACC into the tournament with a No. 2 seed and will face No. 15 seed Arkansas Little-Rock in Tampa with the winner taking on No. 7 Butler and No. 10 Stanford. Baylor is the top seed in the South Regional. The Bears will take on the winner of the play-in game in St. Louis between the North Carolina Central Eagles and Robert Morris.

Also in the ACC, Duke gets under way in the East Regional in Greensboro with a clash with No. 13 Akron. A win by the No. 4 seeded Blue Devils means a second round matchup with the survivor of No. 12 Illinois and the play-in winner of UCLA and Texas Tech.

Defending National Champion Virginia is also in Greensboro and will battle the play-in winner of Xavier and Richmond. A win by the No. 6 seeded Wahoos means a second round tilt with the winner of No. 3 Maryland and No. 14 Belmont. Dayton is the No. 1 seed in the East.

Louisville is in the Midwest Regional and the No. 4 seeded Cardinals open with No. 13 Vermont in Tampa. A win would send Louisville into the second round against No. 5 BYU and No. 12 Yale. Kansas is the top seed in the Midwest.

Gonzaga is the top-seed in the West.

Let the games begin.

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