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The Late Night Game

It's 11pm in the Eastern time zone, and there's still one game just barely underway. Twice a year we get, the Late Game.

Been there
Been there
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

It's a phenomenon limited to the NCAA tournament. It's one of those things that comes along only twice a year, a basketball game tipping off in the eastern time zone at nearly 11pm. The game is always slated to start at 9:57pm or some equally unlikely time, but it never does. Reviews, timeouts, overtimes, more timeouts, halftimes running over, delays after games, and all manner of other things inevitably lead to a tipoff time that only swing and third shifters could possibly love.

Tonight that game is Dayton v. Providence in Columbus. Neither fan base is used to staying up for late games, and neither are the coaching staff or players. Guys who have spent the entire day in shootarounds or watching other games will have to wind things up at about the time they normally are well into their nightly routines. This raises the very legitimate question of how to manage eating schedules and sleep times. There is no college program that routinely practices for what to do with a tip time at 11p in their home time zone.

And that's before you get to the legions of people for whom March Madness is the crowning moment of the year. There's a large portion of the by now bleary eyed nation that refuses to miss a single game. That means the final contest tips off after 11 hours already spent watching ball. By the time 1am rolls around, it's been 26 hours of basketball in the last two days.

None of this is a complaint though. There's something special about that last game of the first round tipping off. It's special, a recognition that something significant has happened in marathon fashion. There are plenty more games still to come and a lot more drama yet to play out, but the first round is winding down. The best two sporting days of the year have come and gone once again, so let's all raise a cup of coffee to The Late Night Game.