The best time of the year is here

Published 1:10 am Thursday, March 20, 2014

As a young adult, I often long for my childhood when days weren’t as stressful and life was just less serious in general. We all have those days, where we think back to when we thought anything was possible — even those things that only showed up in our wildest imaginations.

Well, this is the time of year to let those thoughts run wild.

The 2014 NCAA basketball tournament kicks off its second round Thursday, and with it comes the wide range of possibilities and the belief that anything is possible.

If there’s anything the NCAA Tournament should be credited for beyond everything else, it’s that suddenly there’s a reason to believe in every single team in the field as a darkhorse. If you stare at a bracket long enough, all of a sudden all of the teams start looking good and you can talk yourself into picking any of them.

Oh, the fun it is filling out a bracket. Teams most have never heard of — like the George Mason’s and Virginia Commonwealth’s of the world — come to memory as we try to figure out who the next Cinderella is going to be.

We all fill out a bracket, hoping to somehow select the perfect field from a list of possibilities that is almost infinite.

The odds of picking a perfect bracket are 9 quintillion to 1 — yes, 9 quintillion to 1 — but we all try it anyways. And when we put down our pen after picking all 63 games in the NCAA Tournament, we all feel pretty confident with our selections.

And then on Thursday or Friday, we watch as an upset we didn’t even consider ends our hopes of having a perfect bracket. For example, did anyone have Florida Gulf Coast beating Georgetown last year?

That’s what makes March Madness so much fun though. I admit, I love to think I know a lot about college basketball. I study it, dream about it and spend too much of my free time trying to study it. But my fiancé -— who would rather stare at a wall than watch a basketball game —may fill out a better bracket than I do.

That alone makes the NCAA Tournament the most frustrating, yet wildly fun event on the sports calendar. Is there any greater challenge than filling out the perfect bracket, a task that is practically impossible?

Get your brackets ready, because it’s time for the Madness.