These aren't the good times, these are the best times.
Starting with the First Four games in Dayton on Tuesday night, we get non-stop basketball. There will be upsets, there will be high-profile showdowns and there will be lots and lots of people lying about how much college hoops they watched during the preceding four months. It's all a whole lot of fun.
While every tournament is special, there are always going to be a few that stand out and will continue to stand out for as long as the sport exists. Here are 68 reasons why the 2016 Big Dance could wind up being one of those types of events.
1. Increased madness
A lot of people are predicting that this will be the most insane NCAA Tournament in a long time because, well, it's coming immediately following one of the most insane regular seasons the sport has ever seen.
In 2015-16, teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press Top 25 were beaten a grand total of 74 times, the highest total in the history of the poll. Top five teams suffered a total of 37 losses, 21 of which came at the hands of unranked teams. No. 1 teams weren't immune to the madness, either, as five of them fell before the season hit February, something that had not taken place since 1949.
This was a historically unpredictable regular season for college basketball. That doesn't necessarily mean that this is going to be a historically unpredictable NCAA Tournament, but the two would certainly seem to go hand-in hand.
2. We might see both defining characteristics of a great tournament in the same year
Everyone loves the early-round upsets, but recent history has also shown that everyone also loves a Final Four loaded with blue-blood powerhouses (Butler-UConn ... never forget). While the possibility for absolute chaos for three full weeks certainly exists, there's also a chance that we'll be treated to both of the characteristics that we love.
There has been so much parity among the teams that are now seeded 3-14 that it would almost be more surprising than not if we didn't see a handful of double-digit seeds advance into the tournament's opening Saturday/Sunday. On the other hand, most of the teams on the top two lines appear to be playing as consistently well as they have all season. Of the four No. 1 seeds, the only one to suffer a loss in their conference tournament was Virginia, and the Cavaliers lost to fellow top seed North Carolina in the ACC title game. A line below, Michigan State and Oklahoma also seem like unlikely candidates to be picked off before advancing to at least their respective regional finals.
The answers will all start flooding in soon enough.
3. There will be buzzer-beaters
Oh yes, there will be buzzer-beaters.
Take it away, Hunters:
And just for good measure, let's see the UConn shot again:
More of that stuff.
4. More magic from the First Four
Much has been made over the controversial final at-large selections to this year's field, but if recent history is any indication, one of those teams is about to go on a run.
In every season since its inception in 2011, the First Four has produced at least one at-large team that has won at least one game in the main draw. The opening round has spawned a Final Four team and four Sweet 16 squads, including UCLA a year ago.
It might not make their initial inclusions any easier to understand, but don't be shocked to see Michigan, Vandy or Tulsa do some damage this week. Okay, probably not Tulsa.
5. A multi-Pirate tournament
With both Seton Hall and Hampton in the field of 68, we have our first multi-Pirate tournament since 2006. It's been a decade too long.
6. Gonzaga gets back to its roots
Whether they're positive or negative, people have extremely strong opinions about Gonzaga every season. The most common stance from the casual fan is that the Bulldogs are overrated every year thanks to playing in a weak conference, and typically wind up making an early exit in March. That stance would seem to be directly contradicted by the fact that the Zags went to the Elite Eight last year and were beaten by the eventual national champions. They've also won at least one game in the big dance for seven consecutive seasons, but whatever, don't let me be the guy who steals your fun.
After spending several seasons in a row in the thick of the national title hunt, this Gonzaga team is looking to return to its Cinderella roots. Mark Few's team only extended its streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances to 18 because it was able to win the West Coast Conference's automatic bid, and it's now a double-digit seed for just the second time since 2007.
The good news? Gonzaga has a winning record (8-6) in the big dance when seeded 10th or worse. The better news? The Bulldogs have a pair of stars in Domas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer, and their much-maligned guards are playing easily their best basketball of the season at the perfect time.
7. The No. 1 overall seed is probably going to do well
Despite this being an event defined by crazy upsets as much as anything else, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament has made it to at least the Final Four in four consecutive seasons now. Since the committee began assigning a No. 1 overall seed in 2004, three of those teams have wound up cutting down the nets at the end of the tournament -- Florida in 2007, Kentucky in 2012 and Louisville in 2013.
8. The images
Regardless of who wins and loses, the tournament always produces some of the best sports images of the year.
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Hopefully, this year will produce more like this (that count):
Almost, Buddy. Almost. pic.twitter.com/2RNFDDR5xF— Luke Winn (@lukewinn) March 12, 2016
9. Wichita State's last ride
Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker have been at the center of one of the best four-year stretches that any mid-major team has ever seen in the history of college basketball. The backcourt mates have helped the Shockers go 114-23, crash a Final Four, take out regional ruler Kansas on their way to the Sweet 16 and become the first team in 23 years to enter the NCAA Tournament with an unblemished record.
Whether or not they have something special in store for their last run is yet to be seen, but it feels right that the final run is going to begin as a double digit seed playing in Dayton.
10. There's a 14-19 team in the field
If the defining characteristic of the 2015-16 college hoops season is unpredictability, the Holy Cross Crusaders might be its champion ... figuratively, at least.
In regular season play, Holy Cross failed to win a single road game in the Patriot League, going 0-9 away from home. They entered the postseason as the No. 9 seed of a 10-team tournament, and promptly reeled off four road victories over the No. 8, No. 1, No. 4 and No. 2 seeds to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
11. Brandon Ingram
Ben Simmons, who you may or may not have heard about at some point over the course of the past four months, will not be participating in the NCAA Tournament (or any other tournament for that matter). Brandon Ingram -- the Duke freshman who is challenging Simmons to be the No. 1 pick in this June's NBA Draft -- will be a part of the madness, and is hoping to duplicate the success that Blue Devils' talented crop of tournament rookies enjoyed last year. Of course he'll also be hoping to avoid the fate that Jabari Parker experienced the year before.
Enjoy him while you can.
12. The 13/4 upset trend
At least one 13-seed has won a game in the tournament in six of the last eight years. It didn't happen a year ago, but three of those defeats came in one possession games, with Harvard, Valparaiso and UC Irvine losing by a combined seven points.
It's your show, Hawaii, Stony Brook, Iona and UNC-Wilmington.
13. The potential for Michigan State vs. Virginia Part III
The jokes were everywhere even before the season got started. Tony Bennett's Virginia Cavaliers have been one of the highest-ranked teams in the country since November, but that's also been the case in each of the past two seasons, which both saw the Cavaliers upset by Michigan State before they could make it to a regional final.
The worst fears of paranoid UVA fans were realized once again on Sunday when the top-seeded Cavaliers were saddled with Michigan State as their No. 2 seed despite the fact that many people believed the Spartans themselves had played their way to the top line.
Virginia celebrates its No. 1 seed ... only to realize Michigan State might loom at the bottom of its bracket. pic.twitter.com/tLfBeYxAmO— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) March 13, 2016
YOU PEOPLE STAY AWAY FROM US. https://t.co/7HlGQ3EdOF— Streaking The Lawn (@TheUVAFool) March 13, 2016
Sparty single-handedly keeping Malcolm Brogdon and company from crashing the Final Four for a third straight season would be a bitter pill to swallow for everyone in Charlottesville. That said, it's probably the regional final that everyone wants to see more than any other.
14. THE ROADRUNNERS ARE DANCING
Photo by John Gurzinski/Getty Images
I don't like that a way couldn't be figured out to keep "Road" on Rowdy the Roadrunner's jersey. "Runners" is misleading, and everyone knows it. Don't be someone you're not, Rowdy.
15. The potential for opening weekend rivalry games
For years, the committee has denied that it purposefully sets up the bracket in ways that might yield sexy second- or third-round matchups between teams that have a history of not liking one another all that much. For years, no one has believed them. But also, no one (outside of the parties involved) has complained.
This year's lineup of potentially juicy rivalry matchups includes No. 3 seed Texas A&M vs. No. 6 seed Texas in the West, No. 4 seed Kentucky vs. No. 5 seed Indiana in the East, and Michigan taking on Notre Dame if it can get by Tulsa in the First Four.
Is Michigan/Notre Dame a basketball rivalry? We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
16. The insightful and thought-provoking quotes from head coaches
Or stuff like this:
As the horn sounded, Tom Crean looked at official Kipp Kissinger (Nebraska native) across the floor and said, "You suck."— Dirk Chatelain (@dirkchatelain) March 20, 2015
That works, too.
17. Buddy Hield
The Oklahoma guard is the closest thing to Stephen Curry that college basketball has, and he has one last chance to make some college memories. Don't be surprised if the nation's second-leading scorer puts up some outrageous numbers in the coming weeks.
18. Denzel Valentine
The player who finds himself deadlocked with Hield in the closest Player of the Year race that college basketball has seen in a decade is, like his competitor, chasing the dream of a national title for the final time. It took four monster steps for Valentine, Michigan State's star forward, to get himself (and, in turn, the Spartans) in this position, and now it's time to reap the benefits.
19. Seton Hall's patience paying off
After replacing the legendary Jeff Ruland at Iona and taking the Gaels from two wins to 21 wins in just three seasons, expectations were understandably high when Kevin Willard arrived at Seton Hall in 2010. He was easily the youngest head coach in the Big East at just 35 years old, but people in the game's inner-circle who had spent time with Willard raved about his basketball mind. Some predicted he'd be directing NBA players in less than a decade.
Instead, Willard entered his sixth season at Seton Hall with an overall record of just 82-81. None of his Pirates teams had ever finished better than eighth in the Big East, and his only taste of the postseason remained a "run" to the second round of the NIT in 2012. Some Jersey natives had raised a fuss when Willard's contract was extended in Feb. 2013. Even more vocalized their concerns after reports of in-fighting turned a promising 2014-15 campaign into one where the Pirates dropped nine of their last 10 games.
Despite facing as much bad luck as any head coach in Division I, Willard always managed to keep things together, even if he had to use duct tape. He's also accomplished that -- thanks in large part to the support and patience of athletic director Pat Lyons -- without relenting to the pressure of any of the many voices around him. Now, Willard and his Big East champions are looking to give Pirate fans the ultimate reward for their loyalty.
20. Derrick Gordon making history
We just talked about Kevin Willard not relenting to the pressure of the many voices around him. Well, the biggest and most important example of that likely came last spring.
In May, Seton Hall made national headlines when a priest alleged that he was fired by the university for a pro-LGBT post on Facebook. That same month, Willard brought in graduate transfer Derrick Gordon, the first openly gay player in NCAA men's basketball. Willard dismissed the enormity of the move at the time, saying simply that his team needed experience and a defensive-minded guard, a pair of attributes that Gordon could provide. Still, an expected firestorm followed the news, and the heat was felt most by the head coach whose seat was already a notch or two above warm.
For years, there has been this widely held notion that having a gay player on a team would "disrupt chemistry" or "make the locker room an uncomfortable place." That being the case, it's almost perfect that Gordon has been given the lion's share of the credit for unifying a locker room that was the most dysfunctional in all of college basketball just a year ago.
This week, Gordon will become both the first openly gay basketball player to play in the NCAA Tournament, and the first player to represent three different teams in the big dance. Not bad.
21. Coach dancing
The rad dads of March are about to be back.
Kyle Wiltjer (@kwiltj) March 23, 2015
22. Bill Raftery finally getting to call the Final Four
Raf calling the Final Four for the first time last year was right up there with the College Football Playoff in terms of things we always knew were going to be really good when the powers that be finally listened to the people and made them happen.
23. Arkansas-Little Rock beating Purdue
Because it's going to happen.
24. The West being both the weakest and most entertaining region
While Kansas might have earned the distinction of being the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, the consensus seems to be that the Jayhawks were not awarded the follow-up gift of having the most navigable path to the Final Four. That present was handed to Oregon ... or Oklahoma, depending on which of those two teams you think is the strongest.
While the West should be fun to watch, with aesthetically pleasing offensive-minded teams like the Ducks, Sooners, Duke, Baylor, Texas and Oregon State in the fold, it also seems to have the least amount of depth among its top five seeds. That's good news for the group of teams hoping to carve a niche for themselves as the notable Cinderella of 2016.
25. Ron Baker's hair
Someone cue up Ariana Grande's "One Last Time" and then leave the room for a second.
Photo: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
We all thought we made the Star Wars joke first, man ... thank you for that.
26. The chance of a 16 beating a 1
The most sacred record in college basketball might be the 124-0 mark of No. 1 seeds vs. No. 16 seeds since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. The addition of an extra First Four game has made the final line in the field a tad stronger, as last season was actually the first time since 2011 that all four 1 vs. 16 games were decided by double digits.
Feel free to get overly excited when you see Hampton is within one of Virginia with six minutes left in the first half. We'll all be doing the same thing.
27. Stephen F. Austin
While the world continues to focus its mid-major attention on Gonzaga and Wichita State, Stephen F. Austin just continues to whomp on any fool who dares to stand in its way. The Lumberjacks were the only team in college basketball to go 18-0 in conference play this season and will carry the nation's longest winning streak (20) into the NCAA Tournament.
28. Coaches attempting to hide the labels on the bottles they're drinking
Because the tournament rules about non-approved products are ridiculous and the results that come from coaches who can't go without Diet Coke or coconut water during games are hilarious.
29. The 12/5 upset
The most notorious of NCAA Tournament upsets, it's happened 44 times overall, and multiple times in six of the last 10 tournaments. That trend includes two years ago, when three No. 12 seeds advanced to the third round.
30. Jameel Warney and his love of "Return of the Mack" singer Mark Morrison
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. This is a fact. The Internet has confirmed it.
The United States also has an unofficial anthem, however, and it's called "Return of the Mack" by Mark Morrison. Morrison hasn't done a whole lot since he let all the people know that he was back to run the show, but that doesn't mean that he's been forgotten.
At the top of the list of Morrison's lingering admirers is Stony Brook star Jameel Warney, who has -- if his Twitter account is any indication -- dedicated his senior season to the singer who needed to stop worrying about his big break.
For those unfamiliar, Warney is one of the best mid-major players in all of college basketball. Earlier this month, he solidified his status as one of the best players in America East history by winning his third straight league Player of the Year award, as well as his second straight defense Player of the Year nod.
He added to his legend by dropping 43 points on 18-of-22 shooting in the America East championship game last Saturday, carrying Stony Brook almost single-handedly over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
If the Seawolves can upset Kentucky on Thursday, maybe Morrison will find the inspiration to finally pen the follow-up classic that America has spent the last 20 years waiting for.
31. UNC-Wilmington's unheralded, walk-on star
Rodger Sherman breaks down the story of one of the most fascinating players in the 2016 tournament.
It's reasonably rare for Division II players to transfer up to Division I. It's extremely rare for Division II players to transfer up to Division I and immediately become their team's best player. It's essentially unheard of for a Division II player to transfer up to Division I, immediately become his team's best player and lead them to the NCAA tournament. That's what Chris Flemmings has done, all while paying his own tuition.
Flemmings went completely unrecruited by Division I teams out of high school, who thought he was too small to compete at that level. He wound up at Barton, a school of 1,200 that won the 2007 D-II tournament. There, he averaged almost 20 points and seven rebounds per game and was named Carolinas Conference Player of the Year. Still, nobody at the top level of college hoops wanted him.
UNCW only heard about Flemmings because Flemmings' mom showed up in UNCW's gym just days after the school had fired the majority of its coaching staff. When they eventually hired Keatts, word of Flemmings' mom's visit eventually made its way to him. Knowing he needed a lot of warm bodies to run an up-tempo system, he agreed to let Flemmings pay his own way. He had no idea he was getting his new best player.
I don't know how Flemmings slipped through the cracks so aggressively, but I look forward to him going undrafted, getting signed by an NBA team on the smallest contract possible, then winning NBA Finals MVP.
32. Wayne Selden's uncle
Uncle Anthony is going to be sporting a grandfather clock with his nephew's likeness on it if the Jayhawks wind up making it all the way to the Final Four.
33. The return of "Dunk City"
Florida Gulf Coast is back in the NCAA Tournament for the second time ever and the first time since 2013, when the Eagles captured America's attention by becoming the first No. 15 seed ever to advance to the Sweet 16. If FGCU makes more history this year it will be by becoming the first No. 16 seed to ever win a game in the main draw of the tournament. They'll have to take care of Fairleigh Dickinson on Tuesday night in the First Four to get that shot.
34. The return of "The Other Dunk City"
Andy Enfield's first loss when he left Florida Gulf Coast for USC after that 2013 run was when the Trojans attempted to claim that Los Angeles was now "Dunk City." That, unsurprisingly, upset a number of already hurt people at FGCU, and USC backed off the claim shortly thereafter.
The good news for Enfield is that after two seasons of losing, he finally has the players, and the results, to back up his bravado. The Trojans are back in the field of 68 for the first time since 2011, and are looking to win a game in the big dance for the first time since 2009.
35. The Big East's big chance
It's still hard to put a definitive label on the "new" Big East after the first (almost) three seasons of its existence, although I think its fair to say that even the league's most staunch defenders would have a hard time qualifying the short stint as wildly successful. That could change in the next three weeks.
The Big East sent four teams to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and those four teams combined for exactly two victories and zero trips to the Sweet 16. Two-seed Villanova and three-seed Creighton did nothing to reward the confidence that the Selection Committee placed in both them and their conference by getting pasted in the Round of 32 by a combined 42 points.
Twelve months ago, Villanova again did nothing to silence its critics, becoming the first No. 1 seed bounced out of the tournament when it fell victim to NC State in the round of 32. The Big East saw five of its six teams in the dance go down before the tournament's second weekend, with Xavier -- which put up a good fight against Arizona -- being the only team from the conference to taste the Sweet 16.
Now, it's show time once again for the league, which has Final Four hopefuls in second-seeded Villanova (again) and Xavier (again). If those teams, and the other three that made the field, fall flat on their face, the conference knows what the storyline will be throughout the upcoming summer.
36. Grayson Allen doing something that will infuriate the entire country
Regardless of how far Duke goes in the tournament, there is a one thousand percent chance that its current super villain will do something nefarious that makes him the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter.
37. Yale's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 54 years
The Bulldogs also have a team fully capable of pulling a 12/5 upset and securing the first March Madness victory in the history of the program.
38. A.J. English
The Iona star has breached the 40-point mark twice this season and hasn't been held to fewer than 16 since Feb. 5. Iowa State is a team that has been known to, on occasion, let an opposing guard get a little bit loose, so don't be surprised if English shows his full offensive arsenal on Thursday.
39. The battle of the Frans
Iowa-Temple might be the most uninspiring first-round matchup in this tournament. That being the case, the fact that both of them have head coaches named Fran is as good a hook as any.
Whichever Fran loses is going to be very grumpy afterward. Whichever Fran wins is also going to be very grumpy afterward.
40. Rico Gathers intimidating everyone in sight
Baylor forward Rico Gathers is the scariest dude in college basketball. That has been the case for a while now. Even when he's doing something as un-scary as running into the locker room at halftime, he winds up obliterating some poor, unsuspecting fan in his way.
41. Dayton looks to make another run
It always felt a little bit wrong to classify Dayton, an A-10 program with a rich basketball tradition, as a "Cinderella." That's especially true now that the Flyers have won multiple games in the Big Dance in each of the past two seasons, and spent the bulk of their 2015-16 campaign ranked in the top 25. Archie Miller will try to prove once again why everyone calls him "Marchie" (nobody calls him Marchie, but I'm starting it) by knocking Syracuse out of the tournament for the second time in three years.
42. Jakob Poeltl gets his moment in the spotlight
The Utah big man with the last name that sounds nothing like it looks finally gets his chance to prove to the rest of the country that all the fuss from college hoops diehards and NBA scouts has been justified.
43. Miami's piccolo girl
We have found the not-so-evil twin of Villanova's sad piccolo girl, and she is a Miami Hurricane.
The Rainbow Warriors are dancing for the first time since 2002 and are now looking for their first win in the tournament ever.
45. Monte Morris
The Iowa State guard who set the all-time NCAA record for assist-to-turnover ratio two seasons ago as a freshman and then nearly broke it last year is now looking to finally find some postseason success. With all due respect to All-American teammate Georges Niang, Morris is the key to the Cyclones not suffering another early exit and potentially giving Virginia all it can handle in the Sweet 16.
46. Shaka Smart and Texas being one year ahead of schedule
For what felt like a decade, Shaka Smart was the pipe dream that every major conference program in need of a new head coach was desperate to see come to fruition. Texas was finally the gig worthy of luring Smart away from VCU, and the endearing figure has made the Longhorns a legitimate threat to go deep in the tournament sooner than anyone had foretold. UT plays fast and inspired, and the return of big man Cameron Ridley (or at least partial return) could make them even more of a force in the West Region.
47. The late-game monitor reviews
They're going to be a thing whether we like them or not, so let's choose to stay positive and view the endless amount of reviews as opportunities to check in on some of the other games going on. Or, like, eat ... or something.
48. Watching Kris Dunn do his thing one last time
We all thought 2015 was going to be our final opportunity to watch Kris Dunn in the NCAA Tournament, both because it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would be off to the NBA, and because the Friars seemed unlikely to make it back to the dance even if he did choose to return. Instead, the do-it-all point guard has guided PC to a special 2015-16 season that could end with a final dose of heroics from the All-American who has provided so many of those moments over the last couple of years.
49. Northern Iowa back again
Thanks to one of the defining shots of college basketball's postseason thus far, the Panthers are back again. Watch this "Chasing Cinderella" video for a better understanding of how UNI went from 2-6 in the Missouri Valley to a trendy 6/11 upset pick.
50. Gary Payton II
Regardless of how long Oregon State dances, "The Mitten" will cram ... he will cram hard.
51. Virginia's Pack Line Defense
You can knock the Cavaliers' slow-paced style all you want, but it's amazing to watch their five players work together as a single defensive wrecking machine. Buying in fully to everything Tony Bennett preaches is how a team with zero top-50 recruits can win back-to-back outright ACC regular season titles and then be a No. 1 seed in the year that streak is broken.
Of course, there's also another streak that the good people of Charlottesville hope gets broken in the coming weeks.
52. One Shining Moment
Because the ironic love you pretend to show for it is actually genuine.
53. Jim Nantz's championship line
He's reeled it way in the last few years, so I'm thinking (and praying) that we're going to get something ultra-Nantzy in two-and-a-half weeks.
I miss the old Nantz. For instance ...
"You can leave it to Cleaves."-- (2000 National Championship Game about Mateen Cleaves)
"Sometimes when you think you can't, you can, and UCONN has won the national championship."-- (1999 National Championship Game)
"It began in March, ended in April and belongs to May."-- (2005 National Championship Game about Sean May)
Give us something big this April, Jim. Dab on 'em one time.
54. The repetitive commercials you hate so much that you wind up loving them
It started with a whispeeerrrr.
55. The first round being "the first round again"
The NCAA has finally made the logical and long overdue decision to start calling the first wave of games on Thursday and Friday the "first round" and the Saturday/Sunday games the "second round." The First Four -- which had previously been referred to as the first round -- will now simply be the First Four.
Farewell to the days of attempting to work around the confusion by having to type out "round of 64" and "round of 32."
56. Charles Barkley attempting to work a touchscreen
The good news for Chuck is that he can't get any worse at it.
57. The Providence Friar
Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
This should not have been on here.
58. Peter Jok's resurgence
Jok has been one of the better stories in college basketball this season. He went from the most talked about 8th grader in the country (because people talk about 8th grade basketball players now), to a recruiting afterthought, to one of the top performers in the Big Ten. His latest magic act will be to try and save a once promising Iowa season that has been spinning out of control over the last four weeks.
There's no season like tru season.
60. The No. 1 seeds are vulnerable
I know I said at the beginning that the top seeds are playing their best basketball of the season, and that's true, but this is still a quartet that has a combined 23 losses, the most ever for a group of No. 1 seeds. It's still probably unwise to have them all falling before the tournament's second weekend, but this isn't a group that is anywhere near as invincible as last season's top dogs (besides Villanova) appeared to be.
61. Villanova's shot at redemption
Speaking of Jay Wright's team ...
Good or bad, the March stigma might be the hardest one in sports to shake. A four-month body of work is immediately thrown out the window each year on Selection Sunday, and fairly or unfairly, whatever happens next is what gets lodged in the collective sports brain of the American public.
For Villanova, the phenomenon has been especially cruel.
In each of the past three seasons, Wright's team has ripped through the Big East's regular season and locked up a top two seed in the NCAA Tournament. The previous two times, the Wildcats have fallen before the Sweet 16.
The more Villanova has won this year, the louder the questions have gotten.
Haven't we seen this before? Does playing a Big East schedule really get you prepared for March? Which underachieving team do you think Villanova will lose to in the second round this year?
It's a phenomenon that's as hard to explain as the sequence of events that led its subject to this point. Regardless of how Villanova got here, and regardless of how great the regular season accolades were, Wright has always been fully aware that there's only one way to make the questions stop.
"There's no way to combat it," Wright said at Big East media day last October. "That's why I say we have to own. That's the mystical thing about college basketball. It doesn't matter how many games you win or lose. You're judged on March. There's nothing we can do about that label. It's going to be that way all year. We can't get past it until we get there, and then when we get there, we have to win to get past it."
They're here now.
62. Dancing fans
The only thing more glorious than dancing coaches.
63. Someone you've never heard of is going to be a household name by the end of the month
I don't know who he is or what he's going to do, but someone nobody is talking about right now is going to do something over the course of the next three weeks that everybody talks about. March is wonderful like that.
64. Greg Gard's tournament debut
Wisconsin has been to the Final Four in each of the past two seasons, but the head coach the Badgers have for this run isn't the same one they had in 2014 or 2015. It's also not the same one they had at the beginning of this season.
Greg Gard has done a fantastic job turning around the Badgers' 2015-16 campaign since being handed the reins by the now-retired Bo Ryan, so much so that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez removed the interim title from his job description last week. Now Gard will look to reward that show of faith by taking Bucky deep into March once again.
65. The VCU band
Sit back and enjoy.
The team isn't bad, either.
66. Kentucky looking for yet another run to the final weekend
They're not carrying a perfect record into the NCAA Tournament this year, and they're not even a No. 1 seed, but Kentucky is still the trendy pick of many to end its season in Houston at the Final Four. At this point, it's hard to argue with anyone who puts their faith in John Calipari in March. The Cats have failed to make the national semifinals just twice since Coach Cal arrived in 2009-10, and made a similar run with a similar team in a similar tournament back in 2011.
Guards tend to steal the spotlight in March, and UK has two of the best in the country in Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. Kentucky rescued relatively disappointing seasons with runs to the national title game in the wide open seasons of 2011 and 2014. It certainly wouldn't be a shock to see them pull off something similar over the next three weeks.
67. Seniors take center stage
More than a few people have dubbed 2015-16 as "the year of the senior" in college basketball. Regardless of how you feel about the "one and done" rule, it's always nice to see the spotlight shined in the direction of guys who didn't begin their college careers as stars, but worked their way into that position after two or three years.
While the youngsters will certainly have their moments in this tournament, guys like Denzel Valentine, Buddy Hield, Brice Johnson, Malcolm Brogdon, Georges Niang and Jarrod Uthoff will likely play the largest parts in the defining storylines of the 2016 Big Dance.
68. There will be basketball to watch or talk about all day, every day, from now until April 4
This could be the worst tournament ever, and that's still pretty fantastic.
It's not going to be the worst tournament ever, though. I promise.