You heard it here last
I used to be indifferent to March Madness.
I dismissed the level of play as inferior to the NBA. I watched as superior teams fell victim to a bad night in the single elimination format. I laughed as people picked their brackets meticulously, thinking they could beat the odds that some estimate to be over one in 9.2 quintillion.
Every year there are four regions, each with sixteen teams seeded 1-16. In the span of seven years, I watched as six of the one seeds won it all. I watched as those same few teams recruited and built teams of players who would likely only stay a year before moving on. And I hated it.
But in 2014, something changed. A seven and an eight seed made the final four. They managed to knock off a one and a two seed in their semifinal games. They each also managed to pull off four consecutive upsets (by beating teams seeded higher than they were) en route to the championship game.
This game was set up to leave a statistical imprint. No winner since 1988 had been any worse than a three seed. This year though, it was guaranteed that the winner would be at best a seven seed. The whole tournament had been chaotic and exciting, and the final was set up to be an instant classic.
Additionally, something else changed in 2014; my dad and I printed off some brackets and bet a trip to Taco Bell on who picked the best one. Now a trip to Taco Bell may not seem like a life-changing wager (which I did manage to win), but the time spent with my dad debating which underdogs had a chance, picking our brackets and watching games with him, was priceless. So, naturally, we did the same thing for the 2015 tournament. Which, though it wasn’t the most exciting tournament in history still had its upsets, spectacular plays and incredible moments.
And like the year before, it gave my dad and I an excuse to hang out every night in front of the T.V.
The 2016 tournament was one of the wildest in recent history. A two seed lost to a fifteen seed. The midwest region saw six underdogs win in eight games during the first round. There were numerous close games and a handful of crazy buzzer beaters. Down three points in the championship game, North Carolina hit an incredible double-clutched three-pointer for the tie with only five seconds on the clock. Villanova proceeded to dribble the length of the floor and, as time expired, hit a three of their own.
I found myself jumping up and down in my dorm room and immediately called my dad. It was an unbelievable game, and an unbelievable tournament. I've started looking at this year. While I'm sure my picks will be all wrong again, I'm excited to hopefully watch another eventful tournament. More than that, I'm excited to spend time watching the tournament with my dad during spring break. March Madness is anything but mundane. The athletes give everything they have, every single night. The single elimination format lends itself to exciting upsets and high-intensity games. March Madness is awesome.
Whether or not you care about college basketball, or even sports in general, I would highly encourage you to fill out a bracket and watch some of the tournament this year. No team has a true edge, and there are sure to be a plethora of exciting moments.
You might even win some Taco Bell along the way.
Tyler Dean is a junior studying business administration.