Why We Love March Madness

loyola_buzzer.jpg.

Do uou really need any more madness? I mean really?  I mean, who needs any more madness? You would think that what you have is plenty enough, with room to spare.  With the job and the kids and the bills and the boss and all of the other stuff you’ve got on your plate, who needs any more madness?  I’ve got a crazy job and a crazier job situation (I’m looking, but you are too, right?) and I’m trying to multitask with more irons in the fire than you can shake a stick at. But the answer is crazier than the question. The answer is just a little more madness. March madness.

Somehow and for some strange, mysterious, mercurial reason, the weather in March and basketball in March are bosom buddies. Both are fickle and variable. Both are arbitrary and capricious. Both are warm and fuzzy one day and cold and callous the next. And we love and hate them both, depending upon  the day of the week.

Yes I love March Madness, and you do too.

Today is bright and sunny but it’s also cold and windy. The sky is blue but the air is icy. The trees are trying to bloom but old man winter doesn’t want to go away, just not yet. And that’s sounds just like life. We live in a world full of contradictions and ambiguities and paradoxes and enigmas.  Every day and along the way, our task is to trust God’s process, for His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Our task is to trust that the mystery of Godliness will somehow, someway work out for our good.

Am I talking about life or about basketball?  Good question. In other words, sports and life are one in the same.

This time of year, college basketball teams that we don’t think will win are upsetting higher seeds. This time of year, powerhouse teams that we picked to go far in the tournament are heading home after an unexpected and hurtful first round defeat. It’s called March Madness, and for good reason.  Case in point, a school called Loyola Chicago just won in dramatic fashion. Never heard of ‘em? You have now.

Yesterday in a wild and fircely contested first round NCAA Tournament game, Donte Ingram hit a 3-pointer from the March Madness logo (on the court) just before the buzzer, lifting Loyola-Chicago over Miami 64-62 in a Thursday thriller to celebrate its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years.

Ingram’s long shot from well above the key came after Lonnie Walker IV missed a free throw with a chance to give the Hurricanes a three-point lead with 9 seconds remaining.

The 11th-seeded Ramblers (29-5) matched the school record for wins from their 1963 national championship team in their first NCAA trip since losing to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the Sweet 16 in 1985. They advanced to face third-seeded Tennessee on Saturday.

Loyola was boosted by a pregame prayer from its team chaplain, 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. She’s held that post for more than two decades and, sitting courtside in her wheelchair, got hugs from the Ramblers when it was over.

“I said we wanted to get that big W up there, and we did,” she said in a postgame TV interview.

The sixth-seeded Miami Hurricanes (22-10) led most of the second half in their third straight trip to the tournament, but couldn’t pull away in the final minutes and lost in the first round for the second straight year.

And so the lesson is clear. If you think you’ve got too much madness in your life, think again. Just look around and compare the weather report with what’s actually supposed to be happening outside. They don’t add up. And that should calm you down and pick you up and help you understand that what you’re going through is nothing compared to the madness all around you.

Every year, the games of the NCAA Tournament remind us of how blessed we really are. Just like the 64+ teams that make it into the tournament field, we are blessed to be invited to the big dance. And winning is icing on the cake.

So let’s be thankful for the little bit of madness that we have. Just think — you and I could have a whole lot more.

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