March Madness!

Every year in March the NCAA holds the men’s basketball tournament.  Most people call it something different.  I have heard “the tourney”, “March madness”, and many other things.  It is a great tournament for many reasons.  I would think the one loss and out format is a huge factor.  I also think it is an extremely easy and user friendly event to gamble on.  I would think that a large percentage of the population fills out a bracket.  The tournament somehow manages to create so many memories for so many people.  Each year there seem to be “Cinderella” runs for teams and legends can be born.

Playing in a one and done tournament is extremely dramatic for players, coaches, and fans.  You can have one off night or even one player has an off night and you are out.  You might be a great team and you run into a bad match-up and you are out.  In professional sports you have a series.  Usually a best of 7 series decides the match-up.  In a seven game series your best players can have a couple of bad nights and you can still survive.  That is why game 7’s are always so dramatic, it turns into a one and down scenario just like the tourney.

Did you fill out a bracket?  Are you in a bracket pool?  Chances are you did!  The statistics speak for themselves.  It is estimated that 10.4 billion is wagered on the tournament, that is a huge number. What is really telling though is that only 3% is wagered legally.  That means there are just a few office pools.  It is estimated that there are 70 million brackets that are filled out.  That means plenty of people that know absolutely nothing about college basketball filled out a bracket.  I have heard stories how families fill one out and the winner does not do chores for the week.  Most of those are filled out with no poor intentions in mind, even though it is technically illegal to gamble.

There are so many great stories throughout the tournament. You will see guys you have never heard of play at high levels.  You will almost certainly see a team that is not expected to do well make a deep run and capture the attention of the country.  Here is a pretty good primer for anyone that may not know all that much about the sport. When I was younger I remember a game that featured “the shot“. You know it is big when it has it’s own Wiki page!  Here is a nice article and video of “the shot”.  Bryce Drew went on to play professional basketball, went back to Valpo to coach, and is now leading the Vanderbilt Commodores into the tournament.  Did the shot change his life?  It is certainly possible!

No matter what team you are cheering for I would think that the next 2 weeks will be fun for all.  So many things will happen that you are bound to have a few memories of the tournament.  Can you imagine being Kris Jenkins?  Many boys and girls dream about winning the championship on a last second shot, I would say he fulfilled his dream!  We can only hope that this year’s edition of “the tourney” is as memorable as last years.