Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, and the darkness of winter is beginning to lift. However for more than 33 million people spring represents a whole lot more. For more than 33 million people spring means one thing: College Basketball.
Over the course of three weeks in March, 68 teams vie for the chance to rule the universe of college basketball. It is a sporting event like no other, no other event in the world can match it…underdogs will rise, brackets will be busted and the world will watch as college kids, yes KIDS, see their dreams come true. There is a reason its called March Madness.
But why do people care so much?
1.) You get to play along.
Even if you aren’t playing in the tournament you are able to have a stake in it. Millions of fans and non-fans alike follow the excitement by carefully selecting a bracket that details who they think will win in each game. These brackets are so prominent that a number of Presidents have even filled one out.
For Matt Patriarche, 25, his bracket was important enough to drive 21 hours to Florida. Patriarche is a teacher and he spent his March break driving down South to watch as many basketball games as he could:
“There is just something about March Madness. You connect with it on a different level than any other sporting event. Maybe because the players are in College and thats a relatable thing, or maybe because the upsets can be so big. You never know what is going to happen. And thats really exciting.”
And while Patriache’s bracket was just for fun, there can be a large amount of money waiting for those who bet right. The amount of money that is attached to #MarchMadness is astounding. There are so many types of bracket bets, from small ones to big ones, from free to expensive. The amount of money that circulates within the tournament and the amount of bets that can be made allow for non-basketball fans to get into the game. It is estimated that 9.2 Billion dollars was wagered on the 2016 tournament. That is on top of the 8.9 Billion dollars that is estimated to have been wagered illegally on the tournament last year.
2.) The Speed
March Madness is the largest national single-elimination competition anywhere in the world. Every game somebody is sent home. There are no second chances. And that makes the tournament a do or die situation. People love to watch total knockouts, and this is a tournament that is filled with 67 of them. The tournament is set up with four regions, with 16 teams in each region seeded 1-16 based off their performances in the regular season. The four teams that advance out of each region battle it out in the #FinalFour, one of the biggest events on the U.S. sports calendar each year. Because these games are single elimination, anything can and does happen. As previously mentioned a lot of people make bets, and the majority of those bets are wrong. Late night host Jimmy Fallon phrased it perfectly while writing a “thank you note” on his show: “Thank you march madness upsets. for giving sports anchors a chance to be just as wrong as weatherman.”
Upsets are common and sometimes a number 15
seed defeats a number 2 seed early on. The games are built on excitement. This year there have been HUGE upsets. No.1 seed Villanova lost to No.8 seed Wisconsin and No.2 seed Duke lost to No.7 seed South Carolina.
3.) The Stories
There is a huge human aspect to #MarchMadness. The players are in the college age range bracket. These are kids and the audience gets to watch them live out their dreams. And in #MarchMadness these dreams can happen to anyone. In this years tournament No.7 seed South Carolina is in the #FinalFour. This is a big deal as the Gamecocks haven’t won a NCAA tournament game since 1973. Everybody loves an underdog and South Carolina is just that.
NCAA Footage of South Carolina’s Road to the Final Four.
March Madness is more than just basketball. It is an event that spans three weeks and captures the attention of the world. The money, the upsets, and the human connections all play roles in making people mad about a game of ball.
Will you be watching? Let me know.