The Deal With Basketball

April showers bring May flowers, which bring pilgrims, but has anyone ask what March brings?

The answer: Madness.

For those who aren’t already aware of the biggest sports event second to the Super Bowl, March Madness is, in the simplest terms, a basketball tournament that occurs mostly in the month of March. In broader terms, it’s a time of hardships, of tears and of sorrow and joy. As Americans celebrate the college basketball bracket that will narrow down 68 total college teams down to two, and finally down to one in order to find the best team. Leading up to that moment is chaos.

There’s a lot that goes into picking the 68 teams that participate, so we won’t delve into that for now, but focus more on the actual tournament. It begins with Selection Sunday, a term I had never heard of before this March Madness began. Selection Sunday is exactly what it sounds like; a release of the list of competing teams to the public. This list includes the 68 teams aforementioned while also ranking them, in order, from best to worst. The very best team based on the previous season is given the #1 designation, while simultaneously, the team with the worst record is given the #68 slot. The bottom 8 teams have to compete before the actual tournament begins in order to have four winners to go into the final bracket of 64 competing teams, split into four regions.

The Thursday after Selection Sunday is when the first round of games begins. The games are staggered so that in the first round there are 16 games for two days. Then the second round has eight games a day for two days, and so on until there are only four games a day when the region finals are on, in which the Elite Eight play against each other. After the region finals, the teams are whittled down to the Final Four, and finally the Championship game. In order to keep the suspense alive, the committee that makes the brackets practices “seeding,” a sports term that means placing the teams in such a way that it is more likely the top two teams will meet in the final round. Seeding is perfectly reasonable, because if the two best teams play in the first round, then it is likely whichever team survived, is going to go on to win the tournament; as it is the case with Duke and Virginia, 2019’s top two teams. In fact, the top four basketball teams are split into the four regions so that they are likely to dominate their own section of the bracket before meeting in the Final Four.

If you don’t care too much for basketball, college basketball at that, don’t lose interest too quickly! Even if you don’t want to watch the games, there is still a way to enjoy yourself. Every year, people fill out their own brackets of the games, guessing on who will win and who will lose. Not only could this be a fun activity for you and family or friends to participate in, but some companies, including billionaire Warren Buffett, are offering big money for a perfectly-filled out bracket. In Buffett’s case, he is offering $1 million a year for the rest of your life if you are able to guess correctly. Which, according to most sources, has a probability of happening 1 in 9.2 quintillion chances.

In the end, you may find that you are not intrigued or excited about this sports tournament, or maybe you are and you live for March Madness. Anyway, I’ll leave you with this:

For all the hype surrounding March Madness, it’s not really just confined to March; March Madness ends April 8th, two Mondays from now. So if you leave with nothing, at least leave with that.

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