March Madness


Mary Kate Pinkelman, Sports Writer

April has showers, May brings flowers, and March brings…Madness? The famed NCAA single elimination basketball tournament is upon us and is just as exciting as it has ever been. Sports enthusiasts and casual fans are brought together as they make their brackets, and watch 67 high-level, competitive college basketball games that occur over a 2 week period.

March Madness is essentially the playoffs for division 1 college basketball that is played over 2 weeks and determines the national champion. The top 68 D1 teams in the country are divided into 4 regions (East, South, Midwest, & West) and ranked from 1 to 16 within their region, based on the record of their regular season. The 64 teams are chosen from the 32 conference champions from division 1, and 34 ‘at-large teams’ that are announced on the heavily anticipated ‘Selection Sunday’. Once the standings are released, people rush to make their brackets predicting the outcome of each game.

Basketball teams can easily have hit-or-miss days and with the single-elimination style of this tournament, one bad game will stop an outstanding team in their tracks on the fight for the national championship. March Madness, in particular, is full of upsets with every team fighting to either win or go home. In the 2021 tournament, Illinois, the number 1 Midwest team and huge prospect for the finals, lost in a devastating upset in only the 2nd round. The possibility of any result leaves viewers on the edge of their seats because in this tournament, those teams that have been winning all season, can easily fall apart and end up going home much sooner than expected. So far, this year’s tournament has been full of upsets. 2 seed Kentucky lost to 15 seed St. Peter’s in the first round, and 5 seed Iowa lost to 12 seed Richmond. These huge losses left brackets destroyed as both these teams were national champion contenders.

Bracket-making is one of the reasons that makes March Madness such a big deal for all people. Friends, families, schools, communities, and more will often hold bracket competitions where everyone wagers some money and whoever is the closest to a “perfect bracket” wins the pot at the end of the tournament. Many different strategies, or lack thereof, can go into making a bracket, which is part of what makes it so fun because anyone can win. Hardcore sports fans will often look at past games in order to get as close as they can and use a lot of thinking, while casual watchers may make their bracket off of the team’s mascot or college name, with no regard to the skill of the teams facing off. However, most people who make brackets do it in good fun, with a hint of trying to achieve the impossible, trying to make a perfect bracket.

A “perfect bracket” in March Madness is when a bracket predicts the winner of every single matchup correctly from the round of 64 all the way to the finals. Yet to have ever been accomplished, this feat is seen to be nearly impossible with odds of 9.2 quintillion to 1. To put that into perspective, you’d have better odds to find a random grain of sand across all the beaches across the world, with the 7 quintillion grains in the world, than to make a perfect March Madness bracket. Warren Buffet, a billionaire CEO and entrepreneur, has taken these minuscule odds to the next level, and offers
that if anyone makes an official perfect bracket, he will reward them with 1 billion dollars. After only 16 games of the 2022 tournament, the 70 million brackets got narrowed into only 192 remaining perfect brackets, with each game making that number smaller and smaller.

Many people’s opinions differ on March Madness. There are the serious fans who have been following the game all year, and another group that is just excited to make their brackets. Overall, March Madness is a time for excitement and bringing people together to watch some great basketball.