Shouting, butterflies in my stomach, holding my breath, checking my phone every five seconds for a score update —this is pretty much how my week has gone. Why, you ask?

March Madness.

So many emotions are wrapped up in those two simple words.

Anticipation. Excitement. Sadness. Disappointment. The list of emotions experienced can go on forever, and I love every single second of the crazy roller coaster of emotions from each game.

From the thrill of upsets to the heartbreak of teams with Final Four potential losing in the round of 32, this month-long saga of college basketball has already shown us that it has a few tricks up its sleeve as usual.

March Madness is one of the most captivating seasons in both college and professional sports. It allows Cinderella teams like UCLA to evade their proverbial midnight for one more round and No. 1 teams like Villanova to meet their early, surprising demises.

This year’s March Madness was more special to me than any other year. The University at Buffalo, the state university about 10 minutes from my house in Buffalo, New York, won the MAC championship and was seeded 12th in the Midwest region of the March Madness bracket.

I have many friends who attend the university, so even though I was 800 miles away, I experienced the thrilling road to the Big Dance vicariously through my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds and Snapchat stories.

Having a team so close to my heart and close to home intensified the excitement. I bounced from screen to screen across campus to watch my team play wherever I possibly could.

My mom and I had a constant stream of reaction texts flowing from our fingers. Twitter was blowing up with comments about every turnover, basket made or, especially, each dunk. I even saw a few friends on the screen that made me feel a little more homesick than I already was at the start of the game.

But having a team close to my heart playing also meant that I felt the heartbreak of defeat so much greater at that final buzzer. Not only was there the reminder of the big red block now where before stood the word “Buffalo” on my bracket, but I felt — and read — the disappointment of my friends who attend the school and even went to the game.

And that’s what I love about March Madness: so many emotions wrapped up in one game, but all felt by thousands of people at the same time.

March Madness connects people both near and far — 800 miles far, to be exact — who haven’t talked in a while or who have never talked before at all through a common passion for one thing: basketball.