The history and mystery of March Madness

column by victoriaackermann

For college basketball fans, March 14 will spark the hysteria that is the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. The tournament begins with 68 teams in a single-elimination, bracket-style format and ends with the National Championship on April 3 in New Orleans, La. between the two top teams. The bracket is broken up into four regions, with teams seeded from No. 1 to No. 16 (with No. 1 being the top team in the region and No. 16 being the lowest-ranked team).

The tournament goes far beyond the emotion and excitement of watching the games. It also is home to the biggest “bracket challenge” known to sports. The challenge is believed to have started in 1977, with 88 people paying $10 to fill out a bracket in a Staten Island restaurant. In 2016, an estimated 13 million people filled-out brackets through ESPN’s online Tournament Challenge alone.

On March 12, the appointed Selection Committee will announce the teams and bracket setup for the 2017 tournament during an event appropriately called Selection Sunday.

basketball graphic.jpgAs soon as the lineup is announced, the frenzy begins. Millions of people rush to their computers or printers to fill out brackets and try to achieve the elusive perfect bracket. The chances according to NCAA.com of getting a perfect bracket are approximately 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

While creating a perfect bracket is nearly impossible, there are ways to get a good enough bracket to win the bracket competition against friends and family.

The safest bet comes in the first round of games by choosing the No. 1 seed team to beat the No. 16 seed team.

A No. 16 has never beaten a No. 1 in the history of the tournament. It is your wisest and most historically safe bet.

The next tip is to pick your upset team and ride with it into the sunset.

Almost every year, there is one Cinderella team that makes it pretty deep into the tournament. Pick your Cinderella team based off of mascot, team colors, school name — whatever works best for you. Be confident in your Cinderella team and hold onto it tight.

Overall, be on your toes. Various upsets are usual with the tournament, so pick a quick upset here or there. Even the best teams can fall a bit short during March Madness, while unexpected teams rise to the occasion.

Every year, the NCAA Men’s Division I tournament is filled with highs and lows, and this year is no different. Whether you like basketball or not, it is always worth a shot to fill out a bracket.

Making an effective bracket is almost pure luck, and being able to tell your dad that your bracket was superior to his is worth much more than the five minutes it takes to create it.

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