The Craziest Three Weeks in American Sports

Ben Dawson

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You could be the most avid fan of college basketball the world has ever seen. You could watch every game that airs on television, no matter what schools are playing or what division they might be from. Maybe you only watch your favorite college when they play, or maybe you only check your alma-mater’s scores after their games. Or you could have never watched or followed college basketball in your life. Yet all of these people sitting in all of these scenarios have a chance at winning your bracket pool when March Madness comes around.

Dubbed by many as the most exciting and unpredictable three weeks in sports, “March Madness” is appropriately named. NCAA Basketball’s championship tournament is truly one of a kind, as it pits a pool of 68 total teams against each other in a massive bracket (The 2019 bracket is shown below). With the bracket separated into four quadrants, each region has teams selected by a committee and seeded 1 to 16. Win and move on, but one loss means your season is over.

(Photo: NCAA.com)

After the full pool is released on “Selection Sunday”, millions of Americans race to fill out their own personal bracket, where they attempt to predict who will win each of the 63 total games that are played throughout the tournament.

The true fun comes in the unpredictability. It may sound like a fake number, but there are 9.2 Quintillion different possible outcomes that could occur, 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to be exact. It is more likely to be struck by lightning 6 times in your life than it is to fill out a perfect bracket. March Madness pools have been around since the 1970’s, and we are still waiting on the first unblemished run. You may think: “Just pick the best teams, a powerhouse team can’t possibly lose to one that barely snuck into the tournament.” That seems like a good philosophy, but Cinderella stories seem to appear each and every year.

Who would have ever predicted that an 11 seeded George Mason would make a run to the Final Four in 2006? 15 seeds have toppled 2 seeds and championship contenders in the first round on a few occasions, busting brackets worldwide. And who could forget when the impossible happened just last year, as top ranked Virginia lost to the 16th seeded University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Nearly every bracket in America fell in shambles, as many had Virginia playing deep into the tourney, and 1 seeds has been an immediate pencil-in previously, going 135-0 before that unforgettable night.

Maybe college basketball isn’t your cup of tea, but what’s the harm in trying your hand at filling out a bracket? Head over to any major sports website of your choosing, be it ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, or wherever you or your friends decide. Go through each game, choose which team you think is going to win the game. Don’t want to choose for yourself? Flip a coin, ask your phone, have your pet pick between two treats set apart on the ground! Most sites have a randomize button that will do the whole thing for you. Any way to get it done is worth the time.

Join over 60 million Americans who try their luck every March. You will be hard pressed to find a better way to bond with coworkers and friends alike. The ups and downs that are synonymous with watching your upset pick win a game or finding out your championship team lost on the first weekend are what makes March the craziest three weeks in American sports.