Last night, I got six uninterrupted hours of blissful sleep and then after an hour or two, crashed again for another three. It was bliss. I credit my wife, the mattress in our bedroom finally being the perfect cocoon for my bad leg, and the NDSU men’s basketball team.
If you don’t follow sports, or aren’t from the US, you might be unaware of the NCAA basketball tournament. It dwarfs the professional basketball playoffs in a way that is hard to understand. This is the pinnacle, the tournament that destroys production in most corporate offices large and small in the US. One hundred twenty plus college teams meet in a series of games over three weekends, broken into brackets and of course, gender. The tourney for men draws the majority of the attention but the tournament for the women is just as fierce. These are the big athletic schools with coaches whose salaries dwarf that of university presidents and teams that play in arenas only U2 can fill. And every year, some school that no one expected to survive does something amazing. Last night it was my alma mater, North Dakota State University. They upset the Sooners of Oklahoma State 80-75 in a battle that went into overtime.
This is only the second time that North Dakota State has had a team go to this tournament and for a school as small as ours, it’s a big deal. In a state that is as insane about basketball as North Dakota is, it is an enormous deal. We have spent decades watching this tournament, picking favorites but only once before have we had a dog in the hunt. This year the NDSU men’s team made it, as well as the women’s team from the University of North Dakota. For the NDSU men, was our second shot, a team from our state in the greatest basketball tournament in the land. And despite the odds not in our favor, we won.
The local media are going insane. Hell, the national media are spazzing out a little but Duke just lost so that’s not going to last. But we play again tomorrow night and I’ll be watching, sipping on my beer and fidgeting until Carjo yells at me. But no matter what happens, nothing can take away the glory of last night, when a team from North Dakota rang the bell.