March Madness


Associated Press

March Madness is finally here!

Arguably the most exciting month of the sports year is finally here. March means winter is coming to an end and March Madness, the national tournament for college basketball, is right around the corner. Brackets will be filled out, fans will watch hours of games, and crazy upsets will inevitably occur. March Madness truly is a spectacle and this year there is more anticipation than ever as last season’s tournament was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In an effort to make sure no one player or coach tests positive and the tournament is completed safely, all teams will stay and play in Indiana. There will only be a small number of fans allowed, so the atmosphere at the game won’t be nearly as exciting as in years past, but the anticipation for the tournament is still very high.

The sixty-eight best Division 1 basketball teams are chosen on Selection Sunday and seeded into a bracket. The top four teams are given a one seed and the last teams to be selected are the 16 seeds. There are four regions that the games are played in: East, West, North, and South. The four teams that make it out of each region will play in the Final Four or semifinals of the tournament. Only one team will be crowned champion at the end of the whole tournament. More often than not, a high seed, such as a one or two, will end up winning, but there have been times where a seven or eight seed has won. In a setting where it is win or go home, anything can happen.

So what makes March Madness so fun? First, making it into the tournament is a big deal. 357 Division 1 teams battle all season to try to qualify and only the teams with the best records or rankings will get in. Selection Sunday is the designated day for a committee to pick the 68 teams that they believe deserve to be in the tournament. The chosen teams are then put into a bracket and the matchups are set. This is where the best part of March Madness begins. Fans all over the world fill out brackets predicting who they think will win each game for the whole tournament. It is very hard to pick some games as the teams seem so evenly matched and there are always upsets. Competitions, with rewards of a billion dollars, are held for anyone who can fill out a perfect bracket. However, in the history of March Madness, no one has ever been able to do it. A few days after the brackets are released, the games begin. The first round is completed over the course of two days and games are played one after the other all day. Teams that people would normally not watch are now their favorite team because they picked them in their bracket. When a lower ranked team beats a higher seeded team, many people lose their minds because now their brackets are ruined. March Madness is fun for everyone, from the very casual fan to fans who never miss a game.

With Covid-19 still at large and affecting people across the world, the NCAA decided to alter the traditional format of the tournament. Rather than have teams playing at different venues all over the county, all games will be played in Indiana at a few locations. The final four will be held in Indianapolis. There will be limited attendance at the tournament; mainly families of the players with some students allowed. The teams will stay in designated hotels and gather to eat and hang out in socially distanced spaces. There will be some extra teams not selected on Selection Sunday ready to step in if a team is unable to compete due to a positive Coronavirus test. Although this year is different than most, fans agree that having a tournament is worth the restrictions.

Each year, there are teams that enter the tournament as favorites and this year there are four teams picked to win it all. These teams are Gonzaga University, The University of Michigan, The University of Illinois, and Baylor University. All four teams have very talented rosters and excellent resumes so it would not surprise anyone if one of these teams is cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. However, amongst this group of favorites, most experts view the Gonzaga Bulldogs as the team to beat. They have yet to lose a game this season and have arguably the most talented roster in the country. However, March Madness is so fun because the team everyone thinks will win rarely wins and on any given night, anything can happen. Let’s just hope that this year, teams have their title dreams ended by another team instead of a Covid outbreak like last year.