Opinion: The greatest month in sports is here

Michael Moses

Michael Moses

Contact Michael Moses at [email protected].

The NFL season is long gone and perhaps further away than we think, baseball won’t heat up for another four months and both the NHL and NBA seasons are still months away from playoffs.

The world of sports needs a shot of espresso — or a shot of Dickie V.

Look no further than the name of the month on the calendar.

March Madness is here, and, unofficially, it starts tomorrow.

The conference tournaments will tip off with just as much drama as the NCAA tournament itself.

There’s no better time of the year than March Madness. It marks the start of spring, warmer weather, shorter shorts and more visible skin mixed with upsets galore and enough buzzer beaters to make Christian Laettner jealous.

The madness starts Saturday night, with arguably the greatest rivalry in all of college sports. The No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels host the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils at 8 p.m. in a battle for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The heated rivalry always makes for a great game, but given the circumstances, this season it’s looking like this will be one for the ages.

Both teams enter the contest with the same conference record of 13-2. The teams have been tied atop the standings going into the final game of the regular season five times in their long history.

The last time this happened in 2008, Tyler Hansbrough led the Tar Heels to a 76-68 victory at Duke.

Could Saturday’s matchup call for similar results?

The first game between these two teams ended with a 79-73 victory for the Blue Devils on Feb. 9.

That was a much different Tar Heels team, though. Super-freshman Harrison Barnes is proving why The Associated Press named him to the pre-season All-American team.

On Wednesday, Barnes hit a last-second, pull-up 3-pointer to give North Carolina a 72-70 victory at Florida State. This was the same team that knocked off No. 1 ranked Duke earlier this season.

Duke, on the other hand, is shaky. The Blue Devils started out Wednesday’s game against Clemson with sloppy play and ended with a season-high 20 turnovers.

CBS could not have dreamed for a better leeway to the March Madness season with this matchup.

Duke seniors and perennial starters Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith will surely not want to fall short in this game, but coach Roy Williams would love to prove that his less-hyped Tar Heels could dethrone Mike Krzyzewski and the conference-favorite Blue Devils.

A pair of Big East conference matchups will also tipoff the March Madness season tomorrow. No. 19 Villanova travels to No. 5 Pitt in an attempt to knock off the Big East-leading Panthers.

Pitt leads the conference with a 14-3 record, but close behind is Notre Dame. The No. 7 Fighting Irish travel to Connecticut to take on Player of the Year candidate Kemba Walker and the No. 16 Huskies.

The greatest month in sports is just about here. To think that we don’t even have to wait for the conference championships for March Madness to begin makes me that much more excited.

As Dickie V would say, “It’s awesome, baby!”