March Madness is the NCAA’s greatest hypocrisy and its best hope of salvation

There’s a sanctimonious part of me that would delight in persuading you to ignore this NCAA men’s basketball tournament or, at the very least, to observe it from a jaundiced viewpoint. But I can’t. Who am I fooling? It requires too much intellectual and emotional dishonesty to take such a hard line. Even in this season of FBI scrutiny and unmasked misconduct, there’s nothing wrong with anticipating the joy that March is almost certain to provide.

The greatest annual tournament in sports lives. The backdrop of scandal won’t ruin it. If anything, it will reinforce the might of March Madness.

It will charm, even if you’re not in the mood to be charmed. It will remind you why you love sports, even if you’ve been disgusted since late September, when four college basketball coaches were among the 10 people arrested as part of the FBI’s investigation into the bribery and pay-to-play schemes that are normally the sport’s shrouded sin. It will provide enough heartwarming results to make you conclude that honest and earnest programs can still prosper in this vile environment.

If we’re amid a public trial of college basketball — or more specifically, its laughable amateur status — then this tournament

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