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dick vitale ESPN's Dick Vitale gets his picture taken by a fan at the Duke/UNC game on February 9, 2011, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC. (Photo: Newscom)

March Madness Begins!

ESPN Analyst Dick Vitale talks NCAA basketball tournaments

By Topanga Sena | null null , null

In college basketball, March means tournament time, so let the madness begin! It's time for the invitations for all the top seeds, Cinderella teams, and dark horses to be invited to the Big Dance.

As you can see the madness is not just on the court—it's part of a new language that takes hold, especially when Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Vitale gets hold of a microphone. Vitale sat down with this Kid Reporter recently to explain March Madness.

"Everybody goes absolutely bananas for their respective schools," said Vitale, an ESPN College Basketball Analyst. "They all go wacky, hoping and praying their school will advance in the tournament. Everybody gets involved–grandma, grandpa, father, little kids—everybody gets into a total frenzy over the team that they're going to follow. It becomes a madness."

March Madness is the nickname for the annual NCAA basketball championship tournament that is played over a period of three weeks. Sixty-eight teams compete to win the title. Each team will eliminate each other, until one team remains.

"The NCAA tournament is all about performing, winning, and advancing–you have one bad night, the party is over, you're gone," said Vitale. "I love the passion, the spirit, the enthusiasm, the energy that all the teams play with."

Each year, March Madness attracts fans that enjoy being a part of the spirit and the emotions that each team brings to the tournament.

"You got the cheerleaders, the band, the pageantry, the unbelievable traditions, people get caught up in that," Vitale said. "It becomes a fever, a basketball fever."

Over the years, Vitale has been able to get to know many players, and when asked if there is one player that he has learned most from, he answered without hesitation.

"I love Magic Johnson," he said. "He was the consummate winner and he played with such a feeling of spirit, always had a smile on his face. He represented what people talk about a lot—a boy, a ball, a dream," said Vitale. "He played with great energy, feeling, and love for his school, Michigan State, and then later for the Lakers. And he played with the Lakers like he was a college kid."

Every year at the Big Dance, there are great moments, both high and low. Every fan can recall with the greatest of ease and clarity, the one moment, game or play that stands out above all the rest. For Dick Vitale, that moment was the 1983 championship game in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when North Carolina State, coached by Jim Valvano, beat Houston.

"Watching my late buddy Jim Valvano, he lost his life to cancer at a very young age. Watching him shock America, shock the nation, nobody thought they ever had a chance to be a national champion, and they won on a dramatic last second shot," said Dick Vitale. "Jimmy V., as he was known, running around the court after the win, looking for somebody to hug, and somebody to spend that moment with."

That's what March Madness is all about.

Both men's and women's basketball teams play March tournaments. The 68 teams are whittled down to the Sweet 16, the Elite 8, and finally, the Final Four. The men's Final Four will be played April 2-4 in Houston, Texas. The women's will be played April 3-5 in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can follow the action on TV. (Check your local listings for channels and schedules.)

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