Madness in March


Basletball hoop. (Phillip Winn/Flickr)

Every March, the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament is held. Sixty-eight collegiate basketball teams compete with each other to decide who is the best out of them all. There is a selection committee that chooses which teams to deserve to be in. Teams that fall just short of clinching the tournament get booted to the National Invitational Tournament. In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, four of the 68 teams battle each other in play-in games in order to advance to the round of 64.

These teams try to become the 11th and 16th seeds for the tournament. The tournament is made up of four regions: East, South, Midwest, and West. All of these regions have 16 teams each and contain the same seeded matchups. These matchups include the 1st seed playing the 16th seed, the 8th seed playing the 9th seed, the 4th seed playing the 13th seed, the 5th seed playing the 12th seed, the 2nd seed playing the 15th seed, the 7th seed playing the 10th seed, the 3rd seed playing the 14th seed, and the 6th seed playing the 11th seed.

Making March Madness brackets is a fun activity to do with friends. Sophomore Miki Covitz says that “Brackets cause [him] to pay more attention to all of the games. It is a lot of fun to see how [he] compares with [his] friends. [He] really thought Yale was going to go all the way this year.” The people’s excitement for March is not just for their teams, but for their own personal gains. Gambling causes around 60 to 100 million brackets to be made per year and this substantial amount of brackets accumulate for roughly $8.5 Billion dollars. Everyone that made a bracket is hoping to achieve the perfect bracket. The chances of that are near impossible as the odds are 1 in roughly 9.2 quintillion (9,223,372,036,854,775,808).

Upsets are one of the main reasons why the public is unable to predict the outcomes of all the games. With each game being very competitive, there are usually many upsets in the tournament. However in 2019, there were relatively not many upsets and the upsets that occurred were not as shocking as in previous years. The highest seed to lose in this year’s tournament was the 4th seeded Kansas, who lost to UC Irvine. Then there were three 12th seeded teams that beat their opponents: Liberty University(12th seed) defeated Mississippi State University(5th seed), University of Oregon (12th seed) defeated University of Wisconsin (5th seed), and Murray State University (12th seed) defeated Marquette (5th seed).

Ja Morant, a rising NBA prospect from Murray State contributed to his team’s victory by posting a triple double with 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds. Morant received high praise from the college basketball community for his hard work, even though his team lost to Florida State. Along with Ja Morant, Duke’s Zion WIlliamson is rising basketball star, as he is the projected first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. On the contrary to Morant, Williamson faced media scrutiny when he and his team skated by UCF and Virginia Tech. Both of these games were extremely close. Against UCF, Zion missed a clutch free throw that would have tied the game for them. Many people are saying that he got bailed out because his teammate, RJ Barrett (projected top 5 NBA Draft pick), obtained the rebound and made a putback for a one point lead.

Zion Williamson celebrating with his teammate, RJ Barrett. (Keenan Hairston/Flickr)

Against Virginia Tech, Duke was leading by two with only a few seconds remaining. A Virginia Tech player missed the game winning layup off of an inbounds play which would have ultimately sent the game to overtime. This apparent luck ran out when Duke lost to Michigan State in the next round.

The last perfect bracket for this year’s tournament belonged to a Neuropsychologist named Greg Nigl from Columbus, Ohio. This bracket a historic one. This is because in the Capital One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge, somebody predicted the first 49 games correctly, 10 better than the previous record. His bracket busted when Purdue defeated Tennessee. This caused him to be the first to reach Sweet Sixteen unscathed.

The teams that advanced to the Final Four were Michigan State, Texas Tech, Virgina, and Auburn. The first matchup was Virginia versus Auburn. This game was continuously being led by Virginia but it tightened up when Auburn went on a scoring run to eventually take the lead by 2. Virginia. Virginia inbounded the ball with a few seconds to go and and gave the ball to Kyle Guy who got fouled shooting a three pointer, giving him three free throws. He sunk all the free throws to win the game. The second matchup was between Michigan State and Texas Tech. Texas Tech’s defense held Michigan State to only 51 points, something they are accustomed to. The winners of these games, Texas Tech and Virginia now played each other in the championship game. Virgin again had the lead early on in the game until the last four minutes were Texas Tech went on a scoring run to take the lead with 12 seconds left. This left time for Virginia’s star, De’Andre Hunter to hit a clutch tying three pointer to send them to overtime. The fuel for Texas Tech ran out and Virginia came out on top, making them the winners of the 2019 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.