You don't need to be a basketball fan to appreciate March Madness. Heck, you don't even have to be a fan of college. The 68 team Men's NCAA College Basketball Tournament begins this week, and it is the ultimate equalizer.
Everything that goes into great TV happens in this tourney year after year. Cinderella stories. David versus Goliath matchups. Traditional villains. Swan songs. Heated battles. Last second drama. It's all here — and available to watch on four different networks.
March Madness, a fantastic TV term, begins Tuesday and Wednesday nights with the "First Four" games on truTV. Expect a lot of alliteration as the tournament progresses. This mini tournament in Dayton expanded the field from 64 college basketball teams to 68 because, well, there's always room for more. These long shots will need to prove their worthiness due to questionable regular season performances.
The field of 64 begins in earnest Thursday at noon with 32 quality games being played over the next two days throughout the country. When the weekend comes to an end, only 16 schools will be left standing. The Sweet Sixteen later gets narrowed down to the Elite Eight, and the Final Four. I warned you about the alliteration.
I realize everyone might not be a college hoops fan, but if you love television, here's why you should watch:
Last Second Victories - The NCAA Tournament made its mark with countless games ending in the final seconds with miraculous shots. It's the equivalent of a shocking plot twist at the end of a good drama. Do a quick YouTube search for "March Madness Buzzer Beaters" and be amazed.
Underdogs - Each team is seeded from 1 (the best) to 16 (the worst). Every year, a high seed surprises a low seed in the first round. Free gambling tip — load up on the 12 and 13 seeds. And who doesn't root for the underdog?
Last Hurrah - Legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzeweski is coaching his final tournament. He’s a perennial winner, and many will be rooting for Coach K. I will not — he broke my alma mater's heart one too many times.
Mid Majors - I wouldn't know that Gonzaga was a college without this tournament, and that school is the top seed. Institutions like Wright State, South Dakota State, Bryant and Longwood get a shot against perennial college powers (which the Zags have transformed themselves into). The talent gap has closed between the schools you know and the ones that you don't.
Kids - It's easy to forget that these are college kids playing out there and giving it their all. Only 1% will become professional basketball players, so they're in it for the love of the game. That love is infectious. And if you're a senior, it's your final time on the court.
Live - The best thing about any sporting event is that it's happening live, the key ingredient to most exciting television. There's nowhere to hide on the court, and these college kids (and coaches) need to make the right decisions at the right times.
Gambling - These four days are a gambler's paradise. Plenty of time to make the right and wrong decisions. From the bracket to a parlay on the Western region, there's something in it for everyone. The brackets are all over your office (virtual or otherwise). Why not watch the games that go along with it?
Must-see TV comes in many different forms. Enjoy this madness from Thursday to Sunday.
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: Luther (HBO Max, Starz) — A brilliant British detective struggles with his violent streak on the job in this psychological thriller. Idris Elba stars as intense DCI John Luther, but Ruth Wilson steals the show as Alice Morgan.
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Amazon Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Amazon Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
Standing Up (Netflix) — The creator of Call My Agent chronicles the lives of a few stand-up comedians making their way in France. Friday.
THIS WEEK’S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
Phoenix Rising (HBO) – Director Erin Lee Carr chronicles Evan Rachel Wood's crusade against domestic violence in a two-part doc. Tuesday and Wednesday at 9.
Minx (HBO Max) – A feminist and low-rent publisher team to create the first ever erotic magazine for women. Premieres Thursday.
Welcome To Flatch (Fox) – Young adults in a small town - single camera documentary style. Premieres Thursday at 9:30. (Entire first season drops on Hulu Friday)
DMZ (HBO Max) – The Big Apple has been destroyed and cut off from the rest of the world. Premieres Thursday.
Human Resources (Netflix) – The Big Mouth spinoff arrives with tons of recognizable voices. Friday.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Life & Beth (Hulu)
Friday, March 18th
Amy Schumer returns to her Long Island roots as creator and director of this new comedy series in which she stars as a dissatisfied Manhattan wine distributor who goes home to Long Island to figure things out and find her real self.
Amy surrounds herself with a quality cast that includes Laura Benanti, Michael Rapaport and Michael Cera. The show takes a little while to get going, but Hulu is wisely posting all 10 episodes at once. Prepare to ride the range of broad comedy and trauma as this native New Yorker wonders aloud why the good life may not be so good after all.
WeCrashed (Apple TV+)
Friday, March 18th
Ready for another dramatization of a failed business venture with a well-meaning but misguided CEO? This weekend's target: the shared office space sensation WeWork.
Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway head up the A-list cast of the 8-part series adapted from the excellent podcast of the same name. WeWork creator Adam Neumann rode the peaks and valleys of his simple yet brilliant idea. It worked… until it didn't.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
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