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The Lion's Roar

March Madness
March Madness
March 25, 2024
Sugar and Spice
Sugar and Spice
February 15, 2024
Carrie
Carrie
February 15, 2024

March Madness

March+Madness

Every year, millions of people around the country fill out their brackets before the NCAA Basketball Tournament begins. With countless upsets and an underdog story every year, many around the US are glued to their televisions to see what happens next. But why? Unlike the Super Bowl, there aren’t iconic commercials, memorable faces and Hollywood superstars around every corner, it’s just 68 colleges and universities and their student athletes that represent them on the hardwood. What makes March Madness such a phenomenon?

The last three seasons have featured deep runs by 15 seeded programs in Oral Roberts, St Peter’s, and Princeton. Being seeded as a 15 means you have to take on a team that’s ranked by a group of college basketball enthusiasts and media personalities as a top 5-8 team in the country. These programs, who only got into the tournament because they were able to beat their conference opponents in their respective conference tournaments. But none of that mattered, when all three of these programs made unprecedented runs deep into the tournament, Oral Roberts and Princeton being knocked out in the Sweet 16, and St Peter’s fighting all the way into the Elite 8, becoming the first 15 to ever do so. These three programs are 3 of 4 to ever make it as a 15 seed to at least the Sweet 16, and three of 11 to ever beat a second seeded team in the history of the March Madness tournament. These Cinderella stories were inspirational for millions, with nearly everyone around the country backing these programs unless they were taking on their own favorite teams. Right up until the clock struck midnight, these Cinderella’s were the life force of inspiration for the nation, in a moment of unity which is rarely experienced during this modern era of social media.

What was said most perfectly in ABC’s hit 70’s and 80’s sports show ‘The Wide World of Sports’, it’s the “thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat”,” that guides many to their screens to watch the festivities occur. What sets apart March Madness from other events like the Super Bowl and World Series, is that most Americans do not watch the regular season for college basketball, at least not until late in the season. That’s why many hardcore fans always have greater appreciation for the stories that are told every spring, because of their unique point of view that is acquired by reading from the very first word. With a sport that is shared by few passionate fans, it means a lot more when they finally have things to talk about with others, trying to share their knowledge, and help people make the best picks that they can. 

Another big thing about March Madness is the idea of creating a perfect bracket. Not many people make it out of the first day, even fewer the first round. With all the upsets, it normally takes a very specific combination of selections in order to even contend. The object of the game and how to win it isn’t necessarily picking every team correctly, but more of picking teams to go deep that don’t get upset in the first two rounds. Last year, people that picked Purdue to win the entire tournament lost big time because of their loss in the first round against 16th seeded Fairleigh Dickinson, which was the second ever instance that a 16 has beat a 1, joining UMBC’s big upset of Virginia in 2018. 

Now for the rest of this, I could go on and talk about strategies to win, like picking coaches rather than players, which values schools like Gonzaga and Michigan State, or to look for second tier value teams to make it deep into the tournament, with the more popular teams in that area being Auburn and Florida. But the key to winning in the tournament is to just enjoy it, and have fun. If your picks are right that’s great, but nothing is better than sitting back and enjoying watching the look on peoples faces when they win in the biggest moment of their young lives. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, because the biggest thing that separates March Madness from all other major sporting events every year is that it never disappoints.

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Garrett Racine, Lion's Roar Staff

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