March Madness Strikes Basketball Fans

Alex Campos

With the NCAA basketball tournament underway, sports fans are filling out their brackets and placing not only money, but also bragging rights on one college basketball team. The average person that doesn’t follow sports might not know what March Madness is.

March Madness is the nickname for the NCAA basketball tournament held in March every year. In the past, 65 teams were chosen based on many factors, including record, strength of schedule, good wins and bad losses in the regular season, and outcomes in the conference tournaments. The last two teams chosen played a single elimination game against each other- the winner advances into the big tournament, the loser goes home.

This year, two more teams were added into this play-in round, giving a total of 68 teams the chance to be in the tournament. The teams are divided into four 16-team regions. The top four teams in the country all receive No.1 seeds, and are basically the leaders of their respective regions. The rest of the teams are ranked anywhere from two to 16 based on the NCAA selection show, which happens about a week before the tournament. This is also based on team records, strength of schedule and good wins or bad losses during the regular season.

The tournament begins and teams play each other based on their seed. The one seed plays against the 16 seed, two seed against the 15 seed and so on. The tournament is sudden death format where the losing team is eliminated. This eliminates team after team until there is one representative from each region. The semi-final round or the “final four” decides the two participants in the championship game. The winner of this championship game is crowned the NCAA basketball champion.

The appeal of this tournament comes in many different fashions. Filling out a college basketball bracket is a tradition in many houses, groups of friends and businesses. The participant chooses winners in every single game in the tournament, relying on their picks and eventually picking a champion.

There are infinitely many different ways to fill out a bracket, so the chances of a bracket being 100 percent correct are less than slim. In most cases, simply picking the winner of the tournament can get the participant enough points to win their bracket pool. Many students at GCC participate in filling out brackets. “Every year, it’s one of the largest events and it’s always very exciting” said GCC basketball player Narbeh Ebrahimian. “I always fill out my brackets and try to predict the outcome of the games.”

Ebrahimian’s teammate, Demitrius Perkins, also participates in filling out the brackets. “It’s exciting to watch. One night you can have a very low seed beat a top seed. You never know what can happen on any single night. Plus the talent that is shown every single night makes it fun to watch.”

Student Brandt Bowers said “I’ve never entered a pool or anything, but I usually fill out a bracket for myself just for fun. It just makes it fun to see my predictions and what actually happens.”

Filling out a bracket would seem easy, except for the most exciting part of this tournament: the upsets. There is a reason they play the games. Any team can win or lose on any given day. Upsets are a huge part of sports, particularly this tournament.

In the 64 team format, which was adopted in 1985, all four No.1 seeds never made the final four. At least one of them was upset before the final four in all 25 years. However in 13 of those 25 years, a No.1 seed has won the championship. Being the best team isn’t really important in this tournament. A team just has to win six games to be the champion.

The play-in games this year were on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the actual tournament begins Thursday. The championship game will be on April 4 in Houston, Texas.

Favorites to make it to the championship game this year include Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh, according to
Beware when it comes to gambling. If money changes hands, casual speculation on the outcome of a game becomes a criminal offense.

According to, actual wagering on this tournament is illegal everywhere except Nevada, which is the only state that permits gambling on college sports. While the likelihood of being prosecuted for participating in an office betting pool is very low, it is still a misdemeanor and punishable by a year in prison.

Other than the Super Bowl, March Madness is arguably the most popular sporting event in the United States. This year’s tournament should provide all the drama, Cinderella stories, and emotional rollercoasters of years past. So sit back and watch a great couple weeks of college basketball.