The other night I caught the ESPN documentary Survive and Advance, which covered the NC State Wolfpack’s fairytale 1983 run, when the team won the national championship over the much more favored Houston Cougars, who had basketball legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on its squad.
A big portion of the documentary told the story of popular and charismatic Wolfpack coach Jimmy Valvano, or Jimmy V as he’s more commonly known and it covered some of the details surrounding his battle with bone cancer. As many know, Valvano passed away in April of 1993.
If you watch the documentary, it’ll probably do a few things to you.
One, it’ll definitely choke you up at some point, especially the parts that show the close relationship between Valvano and his players and also the parts that show how he fought cancer so bravely.
Furthermore, the story reminds viewers how special that 1983 team was, in terms of their persevering spirit and being able to achieve the darn near impossible, after beating a team that was infamously known as “Phi Slamma Jamma,” for its unprecedented above-the-rim-wizardry that shocked and amazed just about everyone who was able to see it.
The ESPN 30 for 30 doc really reminds viewers just how special March Madness can be for hardcore basketball fans and those folks who just like a nice Cinderella story, where the person who doesn’t get invited to the big dance, turns out to be the star of the ball.
Anything can happen
Let’s face it folks, during March Madness anything can happen. It’s a time in college basketball where the playing fields, or the playing court rather, are totally equal and everybody is able to start at square one--so extreme underdogs and number one seeds pretty much share the same space and have an equal opportunity to win it all.
In order to catch some of the action during this year’s March Madness, we picked out a few of the best apps to create your brackets and watch the tournament as it’s happening, because with so many games being broadcast at once, it can be challenging to determine who beat who and which teams were upset by another team that wasn’t even supposed to have a chance.
The NCAA March Madness Live app is considered the official app for the tournament and it offers free streaming across all devices, so you can pick up games from stations TNT, TBS, truTV and CBS.
In order to access the service, users would need to sign on to the March Madness website with their television service provider information, and from there, you’ll be able to view games, follow the in- between-game commentary and access a social and interactive feature that comes with the app.
Since the app directly links with the channels that will be playing the tournament, it’s probably your best bet for staying up to date on scores and game results as they unfold.
The Bracket Picker Madness app, for 99 cents, is really for the person who wants to create a bracket, but doesn’t really want to research all of the stats and analytics that sometimes go into picking the final four teams.
Users can simply select which stats they feel will be most useful when teams face each other and the app automatically creates a bracket for you based on the data that you selected beforehand.
The company behind the app will send you all of the statistics once you’ve download it, and from there, you’ll be able to tailor your bracket by simply choosing which stats are most important to you.
Bracket Picker Madness is ideal for those folks who want to put together their brackets rather quickly without a lot of research or searching for statistics.
For iPhone users, there’s the app Simple Bracket that allows users to not only select this year’s teams, but they can compete with their friends and family members too, which many apps made in the past weren’t able to do without a certain level of difficulty or limited use.
The newly developed app allows you to win certain badge awards if you’re able to successfully predict game results and you’ll be able to see your friend’s bracket as well, to make matching them up a lot easier.
Additionally, the creators of the app say that by working with a mathematician, they found a way that users can be properly rewarded for their predictions, especially those picks that turned out to be upsets.
Those interested in Simple Bracket will need a Twitter account to access the app, as it’s mainly designed to be used with other people who want to compete with you.
Then there’s Thuuz, the app that lets users know when the hottest and most popular games are being played. The company says it uses a combination of algorithmic analysis and media chatter to determine which games you should really be watching.
Thuuz will certainly be useful during the March Madness schedule, since it’s hard to learn which games are on, and to know when tip-off times actually start.
But having constant alerts about when to turn on your TV or having a friendly reminder about when you should access your mobile device for a game, can really come in handy for some.
The app uses a color and number system to tell consumers which games are the most exciting to watch.
A score of 85 to 100 indicates a great game, 65 to 84 a good game, 40 to 64 an okay game and so on, which can really be useful when so many games look the same and it’s hard to determine which ones to watch.
Look, March Madness will be gone before you’re able to say the word “buzzer beater,” so if you want to create a bracket and stay abreast of all the tournament going-ons, you may want to go the smartphone-application route, as opposed to filling out a bracket by hand or using an app that requires a lot statistical research on your part, because March Madness is supposed to be fun, not resemble a difficult math assignment, right?
Sports fans just want to watch a good game and make our predictions. We don't want to turn into some sort of numbers cruncher during March Madness. That would stink.