Kevin T. Velez, Campus Carrier asst. arts & living editor

This year’s NCAA March Madness tournament has seen several upsets in the early stages of the tournament. According to ESPN, Illinois was predicted to win the tournament in more than 7.7% of the brackets submitted nationally, and Oral Roberts’ win against Ohio State busted over 5.1 million perfect brackets in the first round of games. Matt Parks | Campus Carrier

As the world rebounds from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, fans of different college basketball teams alike are strategizing their best shot to win big cash prizes. The early bracket preparation of basketball fans is a clear signal to the beginning of March Madness. The “mania” revolves around the NCAA Division I men’s tournament with 68 teams competing in seven rounds for the national championship. 

The sporting event has inspired events around campus like KCAB’s March Madness themed event last Friday. Last week, KCAB held competitions that resembled the tradition to kick off the start of the tournament. 

The tradition has moved beyond college campuses and sparked inspiration for notable bracket tournaments such as the Warren Buffet March Madness bracket challenge, hosted by the 90-year-old billionaire himself. Jacob Camenker reports the bracket challenge and highlights its uniqueness on Sportingnews.com. 

“If you pick a perfect bracket, you walk away with $1 billion from Buffett.” Camenker writes, “the cash prizes have varied by year, as have the rules, and there are incentives for getting the most consecutive picks correct to start the tournament and for correctly selecting the entire first and second rounds.” 

To educate its fanbase of hopeful bracket-makers, the NCAA calculated the odds of creating the perfect bracket through the enlistment of statisticians and posted the calculations on its webpage. After deducting the first four games played before the first round, the organization concluded that in total a fan needs to pick 63 games correctly. 

“If we treated the odds for each game as a coin flip, that makes the odds of picking all 63 games correctly 1 in 9.2 quintillion,” as stated on the organization’s webpage. 

Despite the very low odds of success, numerous Berry students participate in the tradition annually. Freshman Aakash Dholakia knows the odds of deciphering a winning bracket, but still finds an appealing aspect of the annual tradition. 

“The appealing value of March Madness is comparing how you and your bracket fare versus others,” Dholakia said. 

Dholakia predicts that despite its appeal, March Madness may slowly fade away with time. 

“Eventually, more players will go to the big leagues and the college divisions will have lower caliber players.” Dholakia said, “The NBA is their goal and having the chance to be picked-up by a team could be tantalizing.” 

Freshman Reed Tucker did not complete a bracket this year, but has in the past. Tucker notes that time is a significant factor in creating a bracket. 

“I did not do a bracket because I do not have time to follow college basketball enough to really know what to put,” Tucker said. 

Even though he did not participate this year, Tucker sees the value of March Madness and sees himself making a bracket in the future. 

“March Madness is a good way to have a competition of college basketball across the country while also integrating between the divisions,” Tucker said, “I definitely would make another bracket in the future, they are fun to make.” 

Tucker predicts that March Madness will grow rather than shrink and will as long as college basketball exists. 

“March Madness will eventually become something people do for both men’s and women’s leagues.” Tucker said, “I think it will be around as long as college basketball is.” 

March Madness reappeared this season after its cancellation last year due to COVID-19. With its reappearance, the college tradition has new guidelines for in person audiences. As a result of the limited seating guidelines, the number of fans streaming and watching game live on television skyrocketed. The NCAA announced on March 19th that the First Four, the kickoff games to March Madness, became the most-watched games on certain television and streaming providers with a gross audience of 7.6 million across the country. 

Viewing parties at Berry will look different, as all buildings still enforce masks and social distancing in the common rooms. However, despite the changes in viewing, the basketball tradition remains present and relevant throughout campus with a strong fanbase. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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