My favorite month of the year - Billy Corriher

Ah, spring? a time of natural regeneration, a time to shrug off that bulky overcoat and bask in the warm weather, and for people like me, time to gather around the television for that annual ritual – March Madness.

Anyone from North Carolina will tell you that March is the most important month in sports, a time when college basketball's finest will battle it out to see who's No. 1.

It all starts with conference tournaments this week, and I'm sure droves of college basketball fans across the country are waiting to see who will come out on top of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Anyone that has followed an ACC team will testify that the league is the best conference in college basketball this year. We've seen some amazing games from the conference rivals and this year's tournament could be anyone's for the taking.

Duke has remained on top of the ACC for most of the season, and as a passionate fan of the UNC Tar Heels, I've been disgusted.

Duke and UNC have one of the most celebrated rivalries in all of sports. No matter how mismatched the teams are, every year there's at least one game that keeps fans on the edge of their seats until the final buzzer, when they will either leap for joy or hang their head and slump back in their chairs.

I'll never forget the two times the Heels beat Duke while I was a student at UNC. The rabid young fans tore up downtown Chapel Hill, flipping over a car and lighting bonfires. It was a little extreme, but victories over Duke (spelled "Dook" if you're in Chapel Hill) have been hard to come by in recent years.

It's tough to explain the passion of an ACC basketball fan to those outside of Tobacco Road. It's kind of like college football in the rest of the South.

And the conference tournament is the very essence of March Madness. And I will soon be caught in the grips of this hysteria. Don't worry, though, I plan to wear a helmet.

The conference tournament can lead the best of friends to the verge of throwing punches. It drives men to the brink of insanity.

Then there's the national tournament, and with the talent in the ACC this year, up to seven teams could earn a slot in the contest. It will make for some very interesting basketball.

March madness is everything that sports could be. Passionate fans, athletes in their prime striving for the right to call themselves champions – I love the springtime.

Billy Corriher covers politics and government for the News Daily. He can be reached at bcorriher@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 281.