I have a confession to make. I used to hate basketball. Even as a kid I didn’t like it. At 5’8” I was always asked if I played. I’d try not to roll my eyes. Yes, I’m tall, I’d think. But tall does not equal enjoying running back and forth chasing a ball.

My stepfather loved watching it, but that didn’t make me like it any more. And my second husband also loved watching it, but that only made me come to loathe the sound of sneakers screeching on polished wood.

Heck, the only time I’d ever gotten excited about a basketball game was when my dad told me he had two tickets to see the Dream Team play in Barcelona in the 1992 Olympics (he was living in Madrid at the time, so we were within driving distance). I didn’t even mind not going to the game (there were four of us, but only two tickets). I just wanted to go to the Olympic Village. But my dad, the ever-cautious Marine, didn’t want two college-age girls wandering the streets of Barcelona alone while he took my younger sister to the game. So, we never made it to Barcelona. I’m still grumpy about that one, even though as a parent I now realize the wisdom of that decision.

And I still didn’t like basketball.

Until last year.

My wonderful partner, who also loves basketball, asked me if I’d like to go with him to the Pac-12 championships in Las Vegas. Now, we’d been friends for a decade but only recently started dating, so I didn’t feel like that was the time to tell him I hated basketball. And besides, it’s Vegas.

So, we went. And I went to all the games. And it was awesome!

The crowds, the energy, the athleticism, the raw courage of the players in trying to help their teams win the game. Wow. I finally got it.

You see, no one had ever asked me to watch the games WITH them. I had never before factored into their enjoyment of the sport.

But John didn’t subject me to basketball, he shared basketball with me. I won’t lie and say it’s my favorite thing ever. But I’m definitely a fan now.

So, we routinely watch games together. Including March Madness. And the amazing ride this year’s NCAA championships are turning out to be.

We have Gonzaga and South Carolina going to the final four for the first time ever. Oregon makes its second appearance after a 78-year drought. So, at least one of the teams playing in the final championships will be making history.

Which brings me to the real topic of this week’s blog. The unexpected champion.

There’s something thrilling about seeing the long shot prevail. Maybe it gives us regular folk hope that anything is possible.

And so, my recommended reading for this week is Spree: A Sweet Young Things Mystery. It’s a fantastic book, and we’ve just lowered the paperback price to $9.99. And to get you started, I’m offering you the first story in that series free for one week. Just click here.

Inspiration is in the air, folks. Now’s the time to seize the day!

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.