Why do humans adore the NCAA basketball tournament so? Here it comes again: three weeks of March Madness, a record 68 teams, surely a few buzzer beaters, a Cinderella or two, style-deficient coaches dressing in the dark, CBS announcer Gus Johnson yelping like a wild boar is gnawing his ankle, and, fingers crossed, another Louisville male cheerleader grabbing a basketball and lobbing it jubilantly to the heavens, almost costing Rick Pitino a win.
It is a feast, exquisitely portioned. Hardcore college-basketball fans love the NCAA men's tournament—as do those frisky college kids, with their body paint and crippling student loans—but the Madness also seduces sports dilettantes, because it's a reasonable and satisfying viewing commitment. Plus: illicit betting! Who hasn't at one point joined the office pool, forked over $10—a strictly hypothetical $10, of course—made a string of ill-informed guesses, and hoped for the best? And later watched that office pool won by the sports-phobic guy in HR who picked Butler to go deep because his downstairs neighbor bought a bulldog puppy?