March Madness

Zach Cottam, Senior Reporter

Zach Cottam | Senior Reporter

March: the month of St. Patrick’s Day, weird weather, and Madness. In the empty, annoying void between the Super Bowl and NBA playoffs, the people’s champion emerges. March Madness started back in 1939, and was expanded to its current state of 68 NCAA Division-I teams in 2011. A champion from each of the 32 D1 conferences along with 36 “wildcard” teams are given a chance at the big dance, and it has quickly become one of the nation’s most popular sporting events.

But the exciting part of March Madness is the Bracket Challenge. In early March, after the playoff committee has selected the 68 teams, millions of Americans take to their computers, phones, drawing boards, and loose leaf sheets of paper to devise the perfect bracket. Selecting the winners of every game, as well as the score of the final game, has yet to happen in almost 80 years, and it stands as a feat that might never be accomplished. In fact, the chances of completing a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (that’s over 9 QUINTILLION). Despite this gigantic mountain to climb, people don’t back down.

March Madness has taken over as a cultural phenomenon, as it should be. The Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs, World Series, and NBA Finals allow for practically zero consumer participation. March Madness allows Americans to feel special, especially when the 15-seed upsets the 2-seed. It gives viewers a reason to watch games that would otherwise be unwatchable, and brings a level of excitement to college basketball that even casual fans can look forward to.

Along with the competition between the college teams, many websites allow users to create leagues in which they compete against their friends, coworkers, and family members to win cash prizes. March Madness encourages friendly competition, which psychology builds bonds between men, who happen to be the majority of the viewers of March Madness.

There are many different ways to pick a bracket: jerseys, which mascot would win in a fight, stats, records, pick all high seeds, pick all upsets, etc. However one decides to pick their bracket, the overwhelming opinion remains: even if your bracket is ruined from the first televised game, nothing quite beats the thrill of March Madness.