Why do people fall in love the NCAA men’s basketball tournament every March?
It’s not for a love of the game, and it’s not to try to find the next great NBA star.
It’s because of the madness.
The upsets, the buzzer-beaters, the roaring crowds of students cheering on their classmates — all of it creates a recipe to make any sports lover salivate.
The Section 1 volleyball tournament hasn’t been quite as exciting for local fans the past few years. The only true shocking champion in the tournament the past three years was 10th-seeded Hen Hud knocking off undefeated Ardsley in the Class B final two years ago.
That will change this year.
There are still the heavy favorites — Panas (Class A), Hen Hud (Class B) and Haldane (Class D); all state-ranked programs — but more than ever there is parity through the five classes, which should make for a memorable tournament.
Official seeds will be released Wednesday, with play-in rounds beginning on Thursday. Section finals will be held next Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Panas will probably win it all in its bracket, but the rest of the field could see a flurry of upsets. With six of The Journal News’ top 10 local volleyball programs hailing out of Class A, every team should have a reason to believe they can topple the Panthers.
Hey, everyone (myself included) had Kentucky winning the NCAA tournament last year, and look how that turned out.
Hen Hud, one year removed from its 12th section title since the turn of the millennium, is as dominating as ever in what could be its final year in Class B. The Sailors are hovering around the enrollment line that will determine where teams will be reclassified next year. If Hen Hud’s numbers stay the same, it will move up to Class A next season.
With only three other teams projected to qualify for the Class D tournament, Haldane should have little trouble claiming its 13th consecutive title and first under new coach Ashley Anderson.
Most of the madness will come out of the Class AA and Class C brackets, where predicting a champion has about the same odds of picking the winner in an NCAA pool.
Eight Class AA programs won at least 10 matches this season, with a possible ninth being added to the group if North Rockland wins Monday. Much like in 2013, a battle-tested sleeper could emerge from the field as the victor.
Class C is littered with teams that have put together stellar seasons after years of relative obscurity. The usual suspects like two-time defending champions Dobbs Ferry and Pawling (back-to-back champs in 2009-10) are there, but then there are those such as Valhalla, Briarcliff and Irvington, which are looking to put their programs on the map.
As per usual, I’ll make my predictions for every match of the tournament in each class. But I know going in that this year, more than any other, could bust my brackets no matter how much number-crunching I do or cups of tea I go through while researching the programs one last time.
I’m sure I’ll be spot-on in some classes, while others while boast a champion that will rightfully bust my chops during postgame interviews for picking against them. Either way, it should be an exciting tournament to watch.
It’s about time. So get your popcorn ready and enjoy the show.