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Phoenix Mercury guard Samantha Prahalis helped lead Ohio State to the NCAA tournament during each of her four collegiate seasons (2008-12). She weighs in on the tourney experience for espnW.com.
It's March Madness, the craziest month in all of sports! While fans are filling out brackets and watching the games, here's what the experience is like for the athletes.
The day leading up to the Selection Show is an exciting time. After the conference tournament, your team has a slight idea of where you will be seeded; but from firsthand experience, your idea and the committee's idea can be very different.
After that night, your team is now focused and anxious to start playing. You only have a few practices before leaving to go to your first- and second-round location. In those practices, you will go over your opponent and make sure the team is sharp and ready. Focus needs to be at a high level for you and your team because the game turnaround is very quick if you continue to win.
From my experience, when I arrived at the facility and location and saw people wearing Ohio State shirts and gear, it made you take some pride in it all -- you aren't just playing for your team and family, but a whole fan base, university, alumni and state. This definitely puts on the pressure.
There are so many emotions that go into playing in the NCAA tournament; at any time, your team can lose and your season can be over. The greatest thing about the tournament is any team can win it. As an athlete, you work your whole life for this moment and no one wants to lose.
I wish all teams the best of luck and I will be closely watching!