UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 17, 2024

OPINION | March Madness’ unpredictability is all part of the fun

March Madness is part of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, which features 68 teams competing in a single-elimination format to determine the national champion. The tournament is known for its intense games and bracket competitions, and five members of Sun News Daily have joined the frenzy, crafting their own brackets. Angel Wood | Sun News Daily

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March is one of the best times of the year in the sports world solely because of March Madness. 

March Madness is not only a sporting event; it is also a cultural phenomenon that captures the attention of millions across the entire United States every year. It is fun to fill out a bracket every year for it to be busted by an underdog team that you have never even heard of.

The first March Madness tournament occurred in 1939 and only had 8 teams that participated. Fast forward to today, 68 teams participate in the tournament. March Madness now includes four play-in games before the official tournament starts for the final eight teams fighting for the last four sports of the tournament.

Out of all the madness every year, one team is crowned at the end of the tournament as that season’s national champion.

I predict that the Final Four this year will be Creighton University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Connecticut and Duke University. Watching them play so far in the tournament, they look like the best teams in each of their respective regions.

Last year the champion was the University of Connecticut. I predict that UConn will win it all again this year. If they can, they will become the first team to win back-to-back March Madness tournaments since Florida who pulled the feat off in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

Millions of Americans fill out brackets every year to try and make a perfect March Madness bracket. 

The odds of making a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Each March, underdogs prevail, game-winning buzzer-beaters happen and brackets are inevitably busted. So while making a perfect bracket will probably never happen, that does not take away from the undeniable appeal of March Madness.

Bracket challenges between friends, family and coworkers only add to the fun of March Madness. Whether you participate in a league for money or just bragging rights, being able to predict what happens is fun and exciting when you call an upset based on a gut feeling. 

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has offered $1 billion to any employee of Berkshire Hathaway who can create a perfect bracket, and at various times, he has offered $1 million yearly for any employee who can correctly guess all sweet-16 teams in a year. He has also opened this competition to the public for various years.

Competitions like this only add to the phenomenon that March Madness is. No one has ever won the billion-dollar bracket challenge, and it will probably never happen. It does not matter though. It is still fun to fill out a bracket with the hope it does. 

This year to have a perfect bracket through the first round of the tournament, I would have had to predict two 13 seeds beating two four seeds, two 12 seeds beating two five seeds and many other upsets. I would have had to predict all of that happening just to be right about the first round of the bracket, let alone get the entire thing correct.

The closest anyone has ever come making the perfect bracket was Gregg Nigl. He correctly predicted the first 49 games of the tournament in 2019 before his bracket was busted.

Experts and everyday people alike love to use analytics, statistical trends and historical trends to try and make the perfect bracket before undoubtedly falling short. 

The thing about March Madness is that it defies logic. For a long time, many thought that it was impossible for a 16-seed team to win a game against a 1-seeded team because the teams that are 1-seeds are powerhouses. Teams that were 1-seeds had won 134 straight games against 16-seed teams before UMBC beat Virginia to be the first 16-seed to pull off an upset. 

This year a graduate transfer student Jack Gohlke took over the internet after he lit up the 3-point line going 10-20 with 32 points against 3-seed Kentucky to help 14-seed Oakland pull off the improbable upset. 

Unpredictable moments like those are what make March Madness so amazing and impossible not to love even if they bust my bracket.