The NCAA Tournament is called March Madness with good reason. Unlikely buzzer-beaters, team meltdowns, the company receptionist who cares nothing about basketball winning the office bracket pool … these are just some of the crazy moments that make this time of the year one of the most special and unpredictable in sports
But there’s another element to the tournament many of us may not think about when we’re caught up in the frenzy: teachable moments.
No matter what sport you’re involved in, you can actually learn some valuable lessons just by watching players and coaches put it all on the line in one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. Such wisdom may not help save your bracket or guarantee victory for your favorite team, but here are four lessons we can take from the “madness” that is the NCAA Tournament.
Prepare for the Peaks and Valleys
University of Maryland Baltimore County’s upset win over top-seeded Virginia is the latest example of a team beating the greatest of odds and pulling off the nearly impossible.
UMBC became the first No. 16 seed in the men’s tournament to knock off a No. 1 seed in 135 tries. It’s a game their players, coaches and fans will never forget.
But, as they soon discovered, success can be fleeting. Two nights later, the Retrievers were eliminated by Kansas State, 50-43. Sure, they would have loved to continue the fun ride. But following the loss, Retrievers head coach Ryan Odom summed up his feelings with one word he wrote on the whiteboard in the locker room before addressing his players: “proud.” A single win or loss may not permanently define you, but each can help us keep things in perspective. As UMBC point guard K.J. Maura pointed out, what his team did put them on the map, and gives hope to other lower-seeded teams and players who may be the underdog.
Guard Against Complacency
Whether it’s 40 minutes in basketball or nine innings in baseball, a game is never over until the the time has run out.
Just ask the Cincinnati Bearcats, who fell 75-73 to Nevada. Cincinnati surrendered a 22-point lead in the last seven minutes of the game. Nevada made the second-biggest comeback in NCAA history. A missed shot here, an error there and before you know it, that big lead can evaporate as quickly as it came. Staying focused from start to finish can minimize the risk of victory being snatched away.
Let’s face it, no one enjoys losing. But how you handle a loss can say a lot about your character.
Kelan Martin is an example of sportsmanship following a tough defeat. After his Butler team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Purdue in the final seconds during the round of 32, the Bulldogs forward could have publicly made excuses or criticized his teammates. Instead, he sought out his Boilermaker opponents on their team bus to wish them good luck in the Sweet 16. This made quite an impression on the Boilermakers, who took to Twitter to acknowledge the gesture.
Be Ready for the Big Moment
The NCAA Tournament is well-known for spectacular game-winning shots. It’s easy to hit such a shot in practice, quite another when the game is on the line and TV cameras capture every move.
Jordan Poole hit such a shot, a 30-foot three-pointer in Michigan’s 64-63 win over Houston. The same shot may fall short the majority of the time, but players who embrace the pressure situations are usually the ones coaches go to in such moments. Despite being a freshman, Poole had the trust of Wolverines coach John Beilein to take the shot. In this case, he didn’t disappoint.
From GameChanger and Stephen Kerr
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