More Madness

How March Madness works and how students can maximize their experience


Junior Liam Holland’s 2018 March Madness bracket. He won/lost/did mediocrely in his pool. March Madness games are held at neutral locations every year so each fan base is equally represented.

The month of March brings more than just spring. March Madness is a college basketball tradition getting bigger and better every year. As the NCAA Division I Basketball regular season winds down, students at the school try to get an edge on their bracket positions for the famous March Madness bracket challenge.

“March Madness is the best time of the year,” junior Vikram Srinivasan said. “The two days when you can watch games at school are super fun.”

A bracket is basically just a chart of games between teams showing who plays who with different levels that teams advance to if they win until a champion wins it all. Participants just choose the winners of each round of games between the 64 teams in the NCAA tournament until they pick a champion to “win it all”. People of all ages, basketball fan or not, can compete in the bracket challenge.

“I barely even watch basketball,” freshman David Haley said. “I still always make a bracket though because I could get lucky.”

There are many different ways for fans to choose their brackets, as there are no rules for how teams are picked. The most common and most reliable way is by seeding, there are four teams with the seeds 1-16. In the first round, the 16 seeds play the one seed, 15 plays the two seed, 14 plays the three, 12 plays the five, 11 plays the six, 10 plays the seventh, and the nines play the eights. Teams are seeded based on their regular season performance and national ranking before the tournament. The teams ranked one to four in the country are all one seeds, five to eight are two seeds, and so on.

The one guaranteed correct pick used to be the number one seed over the 16 seed, however, for the first time in history, 16th seeded University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) defeated the University of Virginia (UVA) last year. It can no longer be said that the one seeds always beat the 16 seeds, however many experts believe this will not happen again for a while because of the very rare poor performance of a one seed, and the motivated performance of a 16 seed who was expected to lose by the entire country.

“I was very disappointed because the loss was a let down after an incredible regular season,” junior and avid UVA fan Luke Hatchl said. “UVA is known for stifling defense but when a team catches fire like UMBC, it makes it difficult for UVA to win, I will say that one of UVA’s best defenders was injured but that is no excuse for losing to such an uncompetitive program like UMBC.”

Once students understand how it all works, it is time to get together with friends and make a bracket pool. Students at the school have made March Madness a tradition with their friends and sometimes even teachers. Junior Edie Lamantia has participated in a bracket challenge since freshman year with her ninth grade english class, and teacher, Mr. Jacob Lloyd.

“Lloyd’s Madness all started the morning of March 14, 2017 at approximately 9:52 a.m., seemingly just another day in Mr. Lloyd’s English 9 intensified class. Everyone was excited for March Madness to start that afternoon,” junior Edie Lamantia said. “A group of ballers spontaneously created a March Madness pool together and now it’s a tradition we will continue forever.”

Everybody has a perfect bracket on day one of the challenge, and nobody has ever had one on the last day. It’s always possible for this year to be the year where somebody has a perfect bracket. From avid basketball fans to those who have never watched a game, everyone can enjoy the March Madness bracket challenge and maybe even get lucky.

“I can’t wait for March Madness to kick off this year,” junior Sean Werfel said. “I feel like this is the year where I can win the pool and beat my friends.”