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Special to | March 26, 2014

More than magic


When you begin a tournament with a field of 68 teams vying for four final spots, there are bound to be a few unexpected moments. Sometimes, though, those unexpected moments become unexpected wins. One unexpected win can turn into a string of upsets, and before you know it the country is intrigued by the latest tournament Cinderella story. It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does it definitely makes the month of March a rollercoaster ride for one team’s fan base. While upsets and winning streaks by smaller schools may surprise many fans, that team often knows their success comes from the expert advice and preparation they’ve had throughout the regular season.

The same can be said for other big upsets throughout the tournament. It isn’t called NCAA March Madness for nothing, and some of the victories lower-seeded teams have had throughout the years do seem crazy. Villanova still holds the title as the lowest-seeded team to win the entire NCAA tournament after starting as an 8-seed and proceeding to defeat the defending champion and 10-point favorite Georgetown in 1985. Another surprising upset came in 1991 when the University of Richmond Spiders became the first 15-seed to defeat a 2-seed with their 73-69 win over the Syracuse University Orange. And anyone who watched the end of the 1994 game between nine-seed Boston College and one-seed University of North Carolina can still remember the elation of the Eagles’ fans when UNC missed their last three-point shot allowing Boston College to defeat the Tar Heels 75-72 in the second round of that year’s tournament to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Ask any of the players on those winning teams or others that have become a tournament darling or orchestrated an upset of a top-seeded team, and they may tell you that their surprise victories weren’t shocking to them at all. Winning during the NCAA tournament requires hard work starting from the first game of the regular season. UPS Brand Ambassador Jay Bilas explains that, “You prepare for championship games every game, so you don’t have to behave differently in the tournament.”

“When you get to the tournament and you're focused on winning a championship, a team that understands what it takes to win and has prepared all year long is in the best position,” Bilas said. “If you treat every game as a championship game during the season, then when you get to the end of the year you've been there before.  You don't behave differently in the tournament than you did earlier in the season. Those are the teams, I think, that are in the best position to win and have prepared like champions.”

Preparing like a champion involves knowing how the logistics of the game impact your team. Playing as a team is another key to success, so each member of your team, whether it is a tournament contender or your business team, must understand their role in the big picture. Working together seamlessly and efficiently is part of what will help you find success over higher-seeded teams or more established companies that may have more funding or resources. UPS Brand Ambassador Greg Anthony is a big believer in this path to success.

“First and foremost, everybody's got to be committed to what their individual role is and be able to, in essence, be a star within that role,” Anthony said. “Some guys have to score.  Some guys have to defend.  Some guys have to rebound.  The coach has to put everybody in positions to be successful, but ultimately the most important element is to find an opportunity where everybody can perform at a comfort level. The teams that tend to have the most success put everybody in a role of comfort, which allows them to go out and play with passion.”

It’s understood, though, that sometimes it takes a bit more than passion, logistics, and preparation to win a slew of unexpected games or upset top-ranked teams. Successful basketball teams are similar to startups in that they each need a certain amount of luck to swing critical moments their way.

“In order to get to a Final Four, some of it is out of your hands, to be honest,” Anthony said. “Sometimes you have to have good fortune. A lot of people will tell you, though, that you can create your own luck, and I do believe in that to a certain extent. When you have cohesion and unbridled focus on a common goal, then you have a chance to accomplish something special.”

All luck aside, you also have to consider the role logistics plays in any upset during a team’s path to the championship game. Sometimes which region a team is placed in can make their path slightly easier than others. Players that have been stepping up to make big plays during conference championship games and other high-stakes rivalry games may be red-hot coming into the tournament. The focus and expert planning that makes a team’s trip to a game in a city far from home can influence their preparation long before the ball is tipped in that game. You can even look back at the logistics of how teams run practices to best utilize their time and strengthen individual and team skills can impact a big upset.

Like teams that make historic Cinderella runs or pull off big upsets, UPS knows logistics. We have the solutions to take your small business from the underdog role to the name on everyone’s lips. Take it from UPS Brand Ambassador Jay Bilas.

“When everybody is responsible to their job but accountable to the mission, then that's UPS logistics,” Bilas said. “You know, I think the small details in basketball are exactly the same. When there's a loose ball and somebody on your team doesn't get it, then that seems like a small detail. But then the other team goes down and scores, and you know that loose ball was available to get and we didn't get it. That's not going to be in a stat sheet.  That's not going to be the lead in any newspaper article or on television, but it may be the difference between winning and losing.  That's where it applies, and UPS understands and handles those logistics and small details, and that's why it's successful.  That's why it's a champion.”

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