March Madness

By Ellie Winslow

When I say March Madness, I’m not talking about global stock market turmoil or the ongoing strikes happening across France. I’m referring to one of my favorite times of year – the American college basketball tournament called “March Madness.” Every March since 1985, 64 of the best college basketball teams have matched up to compete for a national title, while millions of people guess which team will be crowned the winner of the “Big Dance.” 

“March Madness” has become the marketing name for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball tournament, but has only included both the men’s and women’s tournaments for two years. While the women’s tournament has already been incredibly competitive and fun to watch this month, it is the men’s tournament that drives the obsession with March Madness for most fans.

The NCAA Division I basketball tournament is one of the many sporting events that Americans bet money on; however, it poses a sort of great equalizer in the world of American sports gambling and viewership. No matter how much you may have been following the top teams throughout the regular season or claim to understand the historical tendencies of teams that are matched up by seed in the tournament, even the most skilled college basketball strategists can end up making all the wrong picks. The odds of accurately predicting the results of all 67 games in the March Madness tournament are 1 in 9.2 quintillion, and it has never been done. Each team is seeded 1 through 16 on different sides of the bracket, based on their performance in the regular season, and all bracket predictions are due before the first tip-off. This year, after the very first game of the round of 64, 10,272,984 brackets made on ESPN were imperfect. After the 15th seed Princeton University beat 2nd seed University of Arizona, only 0.12% of brackets remained perfect. Then, after the “Cinderella story” 16th seed Fairleigh Dickinson University beat 1st seed Purdue University in the first round of the tournament, a feat only accomplished by one other 16-seed in history, no perfect brackets remained. 

The allure of the March Madness tournament is that every year millions of people think they can be the one that accurately predicts how the tournament will play out, including forecasting which “Cinderella” teams, or unlikely winners, will go farther than anyone else expects. The closest any fan has ever come to creating a perfect bracket was in 2019, when an Ohioan saw his unblemished bracket through to the Sweet Sixteen round, but made an inaccurate prediction with still 18 games to go. To add to the fanfare, billionaire Warren Buffett has offered a $1 billion prize to the individual that creates a completely flawless bracket. No matter the odds, every year millions of Americans and college basketball fans around the world think they could finally be the ones to receive monthly checks from Buffett himself. 

I love March Madness because it has always been an event, or holiday that my family has enjoyed celebrating together. Every year we participate in a bracket pool with my extended family and friends to see who will win the prize money. Growing up an Ohio State fan, I remember the electricity of the Buckeyes’ run to the Final Four in 2007 and 2012. When I committed to Duke University for my undergraduate studies, I couldn’t wait to watch Duke basketball games in the historic Cameron Indoor Stadium and root for one of the most notorious college basketball teams in the country. Now as an alum with big dreams that Duke could win its sixth national title, I have chosen Duke to be my national champion in this year’s March Madness tournament due to their undefeated season at home and their sprightly first-year coach. Unfortunately, that choice has landed me at the bottom of my family pool. Despite my embarrassing performance in the bracket challenge this year, there will be no doubt that next year I, among millions of others, will feel confident that we could be the ones with the coveted perfect bracket.

Whilst you are here!

The Graduate Press is currently raising funds for our 5th-anniversary print edition and we need your help. The last 5 years at the institute have seen some incredible highs and lows and TGP has been there for them all. Now TGP wants to immortalise that history.

If you can, we are currently accepting donations via our GoFundMe page.And if you would like to be involved with The Graduate Press and the 5th anniversary edition you can email us at gisa.thegraduate@graduateinstitute.ch or via Instagram.

0 comments on “March Madness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: