It Really is Madness

Evan Eccleston, Writer

When the calendar flips to March, the weather changes, the leaves emerge, and basketball is in its prime. March Madness officially began on Thursday, March 17th with 16 games being played from 11:00 am until the final game that ended around 10:00 pm. The 64 teams that get the opportunity to compete against the best of the best are seeded anywhere from 1 to 16 depending on a number of things ranging from: conference championship, strength of schedule, overall record, record vs Top 25 teams, etc… If a team is to win their conference championship, they are automatically in the tournament regardless of everything else.  The bracket is broken up into four “regionals” where there are 16 teams, per regional, all competing to advance to the “Final Four” and eventually the National Championship.


When the bracket field was announced the 1 seeds (the best teams) were: Virginia, Villanova, Kansas and Xavier. These teams are expected to advance the farthest and have the greatest opportunity to win the National Championship. Every year there are a number of teams expected to dominate and when filling out a bracket, you should always watch out for: North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, Villanova, Kansas and Kentucky. These teams seem to always get into the tournament, regardless of the team’s record, they always seem to go the furthest.


The NCAA Tournament brings tremendous competition amongst friends, families, co-workers, etc… Every year will give anyone who fills out a bracket and correctly predicts every game, they will get $1 million. ESPN is confident no one will win because no one in the world has ever filled out a perfect bracket, they allow you to fill out 25 brackets. According to American Gambling Association, 70 million brackets were filled out this year along with $10.4 billion worth of bets were placed. That is more than the $295 million spent at casinos in Nevada. Some diehards place an entire income on a bunch of 18-21 year olds, running around, shooting a ball.


Websites like ESPN, CBS, Bleacher Report and others will give out articles from college basketball insiders on who they think will win and percentages of all sorts of numbers. This year, Virginia was the favorite, winning the title with an 18.5% chance, followed by Villanova with 16.3%, and Duke with 9.8% of winning it all. No one really knows whos going to win as multiple upsets happen every year, it’s just a matter of what is going to get upset this year. Each year there is what is known as a “Cinderella” team. A “Cinderella” team is any team that is not expected to go very far but ends up making it further than most teams.


This years games started with a #7 seed, Rhode Island, playing against a #10 seed, Oklahoma. Some major upsets this year in the first round were: #4 Arizona getting beat by #13 Buffalo, #11 Loyola-Chicago beating #6 Miami, #13 Marshall upsetting #4 Wichita State, and the biggest shocker of all, #1 Virginia getting beat by #16 UMBC. 86% of brackets had Virginia beating UMBC, which is roughly about 9 million out of the 70 million brackets had UMBC winning. Those teams that advance past the “first round” go into the “second round”. Upsets still happen in the second round as #11 Loyola-Chicago does it again this time against #3 Tennessee, #7 Nevada beats #2 Cincinnati, #9 Florida State upsets #1 Xavier, #7 Texas A&M dominates #2 North Carolina, and #11 Syracuse does it again and beats #3 Michigan State.


The Final Four has been set with Villanova vs Kansas and Michigan vs Loyola-Chicago, the “Cinderella” team. LUC is a private, Catholic school with an enrollment of 16,000 students. LUC plays in the Missouri Valley Conference against school like Missouri State, Indiana State, Drake, and others. LUC has just 11 collegiate sports compared to University of Arkansas where there are 17 collegiate sports. LUC athletes have a combined GPA of 3.12 with a graduation rate in the top 7% of all Division 1 sports.


Three of the four national champion contenders, Michigan, Kansas, and Villanova have a combined 6 national championships. Loyola-Chicago has been to the tournament 6 times total winning one national championship in 1963. Loyola-Chicago came into the tournament as an 11 seed, about to face a 3 seed with possibility of playing in the National Championship against one of the best teams in the country.