By Maggie Franke
Anyone who is semi-interested in basketball knows that March has been “mad” since the mid-1900s. While many people watch March Madness to cheer on their alma mater or the college they currently attend, many others un-connected to a specific school still tune in because, in all honesty, it’s just entertaining.
During this year’s tournament, I heard many people complain about the fact that big name teams like Duke and UNC were not in the the Final Four. However, I would argue that this situation is what makes March Madness so unique.
While many professional sports teams rely on big-name, all-star athletes like Lebron James, Sidney Crosby and Aaron Rodgers, college sports depend much more on team depth. Dynasty-type eras for professional teams like the New England Patriots and the Golden State Warriors seem never-ending and, unless you’re a die-hard or bandwagon fan of these over-dominant programs, it can become rather repetitive to see the same group of athletes play the same group of athletes for the same trophy every season. The turnover of talent has to occur more frequently in college sports because players cannot stay more than four years; they graduate and either retire or go on to professional leagues.
This year, the best known player in the men’s NCAA DI championship tournament was Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson. Williamson stood out as one of the best players in college basketball each time he stepped onto the court, but his 24-point, 14-rebound performance was simply not enough to propel the Blue Devils ahead of the Michigan State Spartans who eliminated Duke from the tournament in the Elite Eight.
While some may argue that this year’s tournament was less than ideal for their bracket, the very unpredictability of the tournament is what makes it so exciting.
In ESPN’s bracket challenge, 17.2 million brackets were submitted. Sports experts and lukewarm fans alike had their picks all set before the first round. Although this year one record-breaking bracket picked the first 49 games correctly, Purdue’s overtime upset over Tennessee left no bracket completely correct. By the time the Final Four was decided, 0.02 percent of those original 17.2 million brackets had selected the Final Four teams.
During last year’s NCAA DI Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament something historic happened. The No. 16 seed in the South Region, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), defeated the No. 1 seed, UVA. For the first time in history, a No. 1 seed had been eliminated in the first round. UVA rebounded. At the end of the 2019 tournament, the Cavaliers, came out on top over Texas Tech, making a different kind of history for the school which had never before won the tournament.
The “Big Game,” as people always call a championship final, went into overtime and came down to the final minutes of play. The teams fought for every basket, every dribble, every layup. While UVA was victorious, Texas Tech stayed with the Cavaliers neck-and-neck the majority of the game. Personally, I would rather watch that game three times over than sit through three Super Bowls where Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski walk all over whatever team emerges from the NFC.
The odds are not in any basketball fan’s favor to predict what will happen in March each year, but odds are high that it will continue to be mad, one way or another.