By: Jack Nevins
March Madness, a tournament held to close the NCAA basketball season, is the jack of all trades. This is where dreams become reality for many young college basketball players. After long recruitment processes and big commitment decisions in their senior year of high school, they finally get to showcase their talent on one the world’s biggest stages.
College basketball, along with all college sports hold great tradition, ranging from school spirit, the fight songs, and endless chants. March Madness provides a chance for all teams at the NCAA division 1 level to compete in their conference tournament to earn a spot containing 68 teams in the infamous tournament. These teams are selected on the Sunday before the tournament on national television in a program called “Selection Sunday”, where the teams are put in rankings from 1 to 16.
Every March, fans around the world fill out brackets for the tournament, predicting who wins each matchup and predicting each round, up to the national championship. Warren Buffett offers one million dollars to anyone that fills out a perfect bracket, correctly picking each winner from every region. The chances of predicting a perfect bracket are very slim, as there has never been a perfect bracket in the history of this tournament. This is because of the great upsets, including the notorious 12 to 5 seed theory, where 12 seeded teams have very high chances of taking down a 5 seeded team. Only twice has there been a 16 seed that upsets a 1 seed. The Virginia Cavaliers were upset by the UMBC Retrievers in 2016, proving dreams really do become reality. The 16 seeded Fairleigh Dickinson Knights upset the number 1 seeded Purdue Boilermakers on March 17th in this year’s tournament, making it the second time a 16 seed has upset a 1 seed. Purdue was a consensus number 1 seed going into the tournament, after winning their conference tournament and holding the number one ranking for a majority of the season. FDU was not even supposed to be in the tournament because they lost to the Merrimack Warriors in their conference tournament. Merrimack was transitioning from a division two school to division one school and per the NCAA, transitioning teams need to wait up to four seasons until they become eligible for the NCAA tournament. When March comes, anything can truly happen in the big dance.
Whether it’s the countless Duke and North Carolina championships, the indescribable Cinderella runs including the 2006 George Mason Patriots and 2011 VCU Rams who advanced all the way to the Final Four, the NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament keeps all sports fans on their toes.