Every year, millions of fans crowd around TVs in the middle of March with one goal in mind: to hear the announcement of the NCAA March Madness bracket. For weeks, there were commercials running to hype up basketball fans all across America and internationally for March Madness, one of the athletic highlights of the year.
The tournament consists of 64 teams after the four play-in games. The teams are split up into four regions and are each labeled with a seed from 1 to 16. Everyone believes they have a winning bracket, but unfortunately they all have a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,777,808 chance of having a perfect bracket, which is about a 1/9.2 quintillion chance (Sports Illustrated). This year, similar to every year, was filled with plenty of upsets that ruined “millions” of brackets, and a local Cincinnati team actually played a role in several of these.
The tournament also stirs up rivalries between friends, coworkers, and families, as everyone wants to prove their ability to pick the winning teams. Emma Murphy ’19 describes how March Madness affects her family. “My dad and my uncles get pretty into it and it’s cool to watch them compete along with the games.” She also added that her "favorite part of March Madness is the long awaited Final Four, because the competition gets even stronger!”
Xavier University, home of the Musketeers, pulled off upset after upset to reach the Elite 8. They were ranked as an 11 seed, but under the leadership of Coach Chris Mack they went on to defeat 6, 3, and 2 seeds. Emery Shiffert ’18 followed Xavier’s progress closely this year: “I enjoy watching March Madness because I am a big Xavier basketball fan, but I also love keeping up with the games because I always fill out a bracket and compete with friends and family.”
The University of Cincinnati, the Bearcats, also represented Cincinnati in the tournament, but lost in the second round to number 3 seed UCLA. Another underdog that rose to the challenges of the tournament was the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Placed as a 7 seed, the Gamecocks persevered through multiple nail-biters and made it all the way to the Final Four in Phoenix. Stories of teams such as these make March Madness so unpredictable, therefore even more fun and nerve-wracking to watch.
This year the final game contained enough excitement for an entire tournament itself. The final showdown was a battle between UNC and Gonzaga. Though the game was a rough one, with 44 fouls and 52 free throws, the talent on both sides was notable. Joel Berry II led the Tar Heels with 22 points and Nigel Williams-Goss led the Zags with 15. With 1:40 in the game left, Gonzaga led by 2 with a score of 65-63, until Justin Jackson made a three point play after he was fouled when making a layup. After this, the Tar Heels went on to win the game after scoring the last eight points, leaving the final score as 71-65 over the Zags.
Taylor Kuncl ’19, who is UNC fan, was thrilled about the result of the tournament this year: “I am so excited that the Tar Heels were able to pull out the win for their sixth championship! My family loves to watch the games and seeing my team hold up that trophy and cut down that net makes me so ecstatic!” March Madness was a fabulous tournament as always and it successfully gave passionate basketball fans a show that they will not soon forget.