March Madness kicks off

It is that time of the year again, as NCAA basketball fans are gearing up for the madness of March. For those who are unfamiliar with this part of the year and the spectacle it brings, it is the pinnacle of the college basketball season and, actually, one of the most thrilling sporting events there is to watch.

After long and grueling seasons chock-full of both non-conference and conference games, college basketball teams from around the country battle it out in their own conference tournaments. The winners of each of the various 31 conference tournaments from around the country get an automatic invite to the Big Dance. A selection committee consisting of university athletic directors and conference commissioners then selects 37 more teams to compete.

With a total of 68 teams in the tournament, each is ranked, divided and selected to play in one of the four regional tournaments located at various venues around the country. Each regional tournaments’ teams are ranked 1–16 (with two 16 seeds playing for their place in the tournament). Overall, there are basically four 1 seeds, four 2 seeds, four 3 seeds etc.

Once the teams are selected and the play-in games have been decided, the remaining 64 teams battle it out in a single-elimination, winner-take-all battle royale. Starting on March 17, the tournament takes place over the next 20 days, ending with the Championship Game on April 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

This year, Portland will host second and third round games which are all but guaranteed to please anyone in attendance. However, there hasn’t been much buzz around it in the Portland area yet.

When David Figliulo, an undergrad student at PSU, was asked if he was going to any of the games, he said, “You know, I didn’t even know the tournament was being played in Portland. I might go, but I will probably just watch it from my living room.”

As is often the case with college students, their budgets really aren’t fit to attend major sporting events. These thoughts were echoed by junior Derriel Ingraham who said, “I don’t plan on attending the games at Portland unless I can find a good deal on some tickets. Either way, I will have fun watching it on TV from home with friends.”

And with the production that goes into the telecasts, watching the game at home on TV does provide you with the best seat in the house.

What makes March Madness even more exciting is that prior to the tournament beginning, fans fill out a blank bracket from the opening rounds to the championship game with their predictions on who will win. Millions upon millions of fans—both familiar and unfamiliar with college basketball—fill these brackets out. Even P.O.T.U.S. takes his shot at predicting the winners.

There are a thousands of digital brackets people can fill out online. Some of these offer incredible amounts of money for anyone who can pick every game correct. The biggest example of this was Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans’ Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. They offered anyone who picked all games correctly a billion dollars. The result? No one made it out of the first round with a perfect bracket.

Billion or not, filling out a bracket online or with your closest friends makes every game more exciting than it already is. I asked senior Enoch Aggrey whether or not he plans to fill out a bracket this year. Enoch responded, “Heck yeah. I do every year. Last year I ended up winning against a bunch of my friends. It made the tournament way more fun to watch.”

All in all, there is a reason it is called March Madness. From epic upsets to thrilling buzzer beaters, it truly is madness. The passion in which the players play, with the whole country invested in their performance, is unrivaled at the NCAA level. When you add in a chance to win a billion dollars, there is no question as to why March marks the season of madness for sports fans of all stripes.