The best part of March Madness is the Cinderella stories, the feel-good winners, and the emotion that goes into it all, but with every winner comes a loser.
On Wednesday, No. 16 seed NC Central lost to fellow No. 16 seed North Dakota State in a close four-point loss in their First Four matchup in Dayton. It was the kind of excitement everybody looks forward to when March rolls around and it was exciting to see the Bison move on to play No. 1 seed Duke on Friday.
However, for NC Central their season is over and for their seniors, it’s the end of their college basketball careers. For many of them, and the rest of the seniors in the tournament, it’s the last time they’ll be playing competitive ball at all. Following the game, NC Central coach LeVelle Moton talked about the loss and what it meant to see them reach this point. He also talked about those seniors he considers a part of his family.
“These two kids, along with the rest of my seniors, they’re incredible kids,” Moton said. “And they become your children. And you love them. And just like anything for your kids you don’t want to see them hurting. And just the fact that it was their last game and I had the opportunity to help them through that. I don’t know if I did my very best and they’re questioning if they did their best. You jus don’t want them to hurt. These kids are incredible students. They’re gonna graduate. They come to my house. They steal my kids fruit snacks. They’re part of my family man.”
As heart wrenching as this is, it’s part of why we love sports and what makes March Madness great. Yes, we want to see the jubilation from teams as they move on, but what makes it great is the emotions pouring out of the players and coaches. Sometimes that emotion overwhelms them to tears. That was the case with Moton following the loss.
You can really feel the care Moton has for his players at this moment and the desire he has to help them reach their goals. I’m sure many of them feel the same way and even after their college careers, they will always have a mentor to look to in their coach. Sometimes in life that is so much more important than the final results of these games we love.