Buzzer-beaters, unpredictable upsets and one ultimate champion: March Madness is finally here. Starting the second week of March and running until the first week of April, the NCAA Basketball Tournament does not fail to entertain. This year’s bracket was announced in early February by the Division 1 men’s basketball committee. Since then, millions of fans have been sent into a frenzy of excitement; this is exactly the chaos that gives the tournament its name: March Madness.
The tournament consists of 68 teams playing for college basketball’s biggest prize. But what many people do not realize is that the teams must be selected for the tournament; they are not guaranteed a spot. Thirty one teams receive an invite to the tournament as a reward for winning their respective conference. Meanwhile, the remaining invites, thirty seven to be exact, are left in the hands of the selection committee. For those teams, some are given a spot, others are not and there is a third group of teams who could go either way. These teams are known as “bubble teams.” Acceptance is determined by criteria, including: national poll rankings, conference record, road record and the way a team finishes the regular season.
Over the course of a couple weeks, the selected 62 teams would narrow down to 32, 16, eight and so on, until one team remains. To get the fans involved, millions of people across the country participate in the bracket challenge. The bracket challenge is a contest that dares everyone to try to arrange the exact bracket for how the tournament will unfold. Per usual, it is a challenge, but not impossible. In fact, senior Bill Doran calculated just how hard it is to fill out the perfect bracket. According to Doran, there are 9.2 quintillion possible bracket arrangements. Nonetheless, it’s a fun way to get excited for the tournament. Junior Zach Hangar said, “It’s is fun to see how many games you can get right.”
While many people, like Hangar, enjoy March Madness because of the bracket challenge, others enjoy the tournament games themselves. In fact, math teacher Andy Free said, “[my favorite thing about March Madness] is the fact that there are so many games going on at once.”
Sophomore Harrison Larner said he enjoys the fact that there is always a game to watch too. “The unpredictability of the tournament and watching the big games is the best part of the tournament,” said Larner.
The excitement does not stop as the games wind down. This national sports phenomenon is thrilling from start to finish. As teams face the agony of going home or the euphoria of making it to the next game, the final moment gets closer and closer. With only four teams left: Gonzaga, UNC Chapel Hill, South Carolina and Oregon, the anticipation grows. So who will be this year’s victor?