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March Madness: An international sporting phenomenon

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, informally known as March Madness has been popular for over 75 years. Also known as the Big Dance, the the tournament is single-elimination featuring 68 basketball teams, with four “play-in games”. The tournament has an immense presence throughout sports and is exciting because of the occasional upsets and ability to pick brackets.

Darby Craig (’21), a tournament and college sport enthusiast, believes that the atmosphere of March Madness is “electric” and that it is amazing to “watch the fans and the stadiums go insane.”

When filling out brackets, Craig likes to research teams and figure out distinctive aspects of each team, instead of picking teams randomly. “I like to look at the stats, like points per game, steals per game and rebounds per game. I like to know a few of the star players, just to know the playing style and who I think will go the farthest,” he said.

He also takes into account the big teams, like Duke, UNC, UVA and Villanova, who are ranked in the top 10 in NCAA men’s basketball. He also looks at the difficulty each teams conference, realizing some are more challenging than others. Craig said “The seeding always plays a big part in my mind. It depends on their record and what league that they are in.”

However, Kenzie Morris (’20), another March Madness fanatic, looks at previous records instead of seeding. She said “I look at big teams and the number of wins and losses that they have. Then, if I am really stuck, I look to the seeding.”

Craig has been filling out his brackets and competing with his family since he was eight years old. The tournament has always been a “huge deal” to him and he enjoys the competition with his family and friends. Craig said that his family has always counted up points and he has “always been so dedicated to the tournament” that he put together a trophy so that his family would have something to play for.

Seventh Grade math teacher Jill Broderick feels that the excitement of brackets and the tournament as a whole makes her watch more basketball. She fills in a bracket every year with colleagues from a previous school. Broderick feels that although March Madness creates competition, it also brings people together. “I still have a bracket together [with my old colleagues even though] we’re out of touch. We’re all in different places, none of us are still at the school that we started. One person’s in Texas, one person’s in Jersey and I’m in London and we still have a group chat to talk about our March Madness bracket”

For Craig, the only negative of the tournament is losing. He competes in big tournaments and different leagues and finds it disappointing when he loses.“Say, the team that I want to win gets out the second round. I am very disappointed for the next two weeks,” he said.

Upsets play a huge role in the NCAA March Madness tournaments. “The occasional upset is very interesting to see and a lot of the times you never see it coming and it can mess up your bracket,” Craig said.

Craig added that “never chooses major upsets, but maybe small games like the 7 v. [11] seed games, I look for the [11] team seed to win that. in the 8 v. 9 game that is very competitive.”

Morris feels that upsets are very exciting for her. “I look to upsets to pick some of my bracket choices,” she said. “It’s very nerve-racking because if I am wrong, my whole bracket is done.”

The First-Round of the NCAA tournament started yesterday, with 3 upsets. 11-ranked seed Loyola hit a crucial 3-pointer in the last seconds of the second half to win against 6-ranked seed Miami Florida. 13-ranked seed Buffalo were leading against 4-ranked Arizona by two points at the end of the first half, and scored 40 points in the second half to win 89-68. 9-ranked seed Alabama beat 8-ranked seed Virginia Tech by 5 points.

There is NCAA March Madness streaming from 4:15-10:30 pm today in the School Center for students and parents who want to come and watch.

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About the Contributor
Lily Whitman, Sports Editor: Print Emeritus
Lily Whitman (’20) is the Sports Editor: Print Emeritus for the second year in a row. This will be her third year writing for The Standard. Whitman is an avid fan of the Colorado Rockies, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Fulham FC.  She is also a student-athlete playing softball, field hockey, and crew.

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