March Madness: NCAA Tournament

Cover of "Hoosiers"

Cover of Hoosiers

It’s that time of the season again! Yes, brackets and wagers are making their way into the sports scene for March Madness.

The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship is a single-elimination tournament performed each spring in the United States, featuring 68 college basketball teams, to determine the national championship of the major college basketball teams.

In honor of March Madness, the Chicago Tribune hosted March 18 a special screening of ‘Hoosiers’ with a discussion afterwards with David Haugh and Michael Phillips. Special appearances included Chelcie Ross and Bobby Plump.

Haugh has been a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune for 10 years, starting as a Bears beat reporter, then making his way to Bears columnist. Phillips is the Tribune’s film critic.

Plump, who played on the Milan team that inspired the movie (and hit the game-winning shot), appeared via Skype after the screening of the film.

Veteran actor Ross–who played George, the townie who opposed coach Norman Dale in the film–joined the panel discussion of sports movies afterward. Ross also played Notre Dame football coach Dan Devine in “Rudy” and Eddie Harris in “Major League.”

Hoosiers is based on the true story of a small-town Indiana team that made the state finals in 1954; this movie chronicles the efforts of a coach with a mottled past, and the town’s basketball-loving drunk to lead their high school team to victory.

Plump explained during the discussion how the Milan team in 1954 never played man-to-man defense before.

“We couldn’t do it. So, he [the coach] went to our eighth grade coach and asked if he could teach us. He laughed and said, ‘They already know how to do it,’ Plump said.

When asked why Hoosiers has resonated with the audiences, Plump said, “Well, I certainly think…because all, except one, were real basketball players in Indiana acting in the movie, it captured the essence of basketball in small communities.”

NCAA Men’s Division only has one top seed team, the University of Louisville, and only two No. 2 seeds teams, Duke and Ohio State, which have survived in the competition.

English: National Collegiate Athletic Associat...

English: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) logo.

Now the tournament is down to the four regional championships, whose winners will meet in the semifinals on Saturday, April 6. The title game is Monday, April 8.

During the discussion afterward, an audience member explained how Hoosiers was a Cinderella story for this small Indiana team. Like the Milan team, Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA tournament.

Their journey came to an end Friday March 29 against Florida with an ending score of 62-50.

“We made history,” point guard Brett Comer said to CBS Sports.”We did something nobody in the nation thought we could do.”

“I didn’t think the whole nation would come out and support us the way they did,” guard Bernard Thompson told CBS Sports. “I’ll remember the wins. The wonderful feeling. It’s hard to explain. It’s surreal, a dream, when you win in the NCAA tournament.”

The Elite Eight is left with the marquee names of college basketball, such as Syracuse, Ohio State, Duke, Kansas and the final Cinderella team, Wichita State.

Jim Lackritz, San Diego State University Sports Business professor and statistics expert, explained to Forbes Magazine that he was rather confident that a Cinderella team will make the Final Four, he later demonstrated that there is actually only a 30-40 percent chance that one of the Cinderella teams will be heading to Atlanta.

Towards the end of the discussion, Haugh said, Hoosiers represents everything that is interesting about sports journalism.

“As all the elements, it has this story of redemption, someone overcoming adversity, there’s success, everything that one would read in a sports story in the Chicago Tribune,” Haugh said. “Its people trying to overcome something, something they don’t think is possible. From a sports angle, that is why it has endures twenty some years later.”


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