Every March, sixty four basketball teams from the NCAA participate in a tournament to determine the college basketball champion. Each team is seeded by a committee. The seeds range from 1 to 16. There are 4 of every seed which makes sixty four teams. These teams will play games until there are only two left, and they then play for the national championship. Each round of the tournament has a name, the first round being the round of 64, the second is the round of 32, the third is the sweet sixteen, then the elite eight, next the final four, and finally the championship. The tournament usually starts in early March, and ends in early April. This year, the tournament starts on March 13th and ends on April 2nd.
The tournament attracts many fans, and has led to fans creating brackets, where they try to predict the outcomes of all the games. Major corporations have offered large sums of money to whoever can create a perfect bracket. Warren Buffet offered 1 billion dollars to anyone who could create a perfect bracket, but the odds of doing so are slim to none. In fact, there is debate about how low the odds are. Lower estimates assume 1 in 1 billion chances, and higher ones approach an essentially zero probability. Many people take part in leagues where the participant who has the best bracket, or the one that is closest to perfect can win money or other prizes.
In years past, many spectacular games and amazing upsets have taken place. Last year, South Carolina was a seven seed (an average team) made it all the way to the final four. Watching these types of teams win as underdogs is awesome to witness. These upsets are part of the reason why perfect brackets are so elusive. In fact, two upsets in 2015 busted more than 99% of brackets when two “14” seeded teams each upset their “3” seeded matchup. Highly seeded teams, however, do bring home many of the championships. This speaks to the committees ability to gauge the regular season and, in their own way, predict the winner of the tournament. One upset that has yet to occur in all of the tournament’s history is an upset where the “16” seeded team defeats the “1” seeded team. This may be helpful to remember when you make your bracket, and may prevent you from “busting” in the first round.
This year, some of the teams that are projected to win are Virginia, Villanova, and Duke. This is what Jack Wittmaack, a sophomore at Ridgewood High School had to say about this year’s tournament predictions, “Villanova isn’t gonna win! Those guys aren’t even that good, c’mon now!” I will have Kansas winning the tournament for my bracket this year because they are a talented team and have an experienced coach.
Graphics: Maraea Garcia