It’s that time of year again. The college basketball finale, the pinnacle and absolute craziest part of the season, the NCAA tournament. Dubbed “March Madness” or “The Big Dance”, the NCAA tournament is a sporting event like nothing else. Comprised of 68 Division I basketball teams, the tournament is each team’s pathway to a chance to win the coveted National Championship.

The tournament is formatted into four separate regions: Midwest, West, South and East. Each region pertains to where the games are being played. In those regions, there are 16 teams seeded one through 16 with the best team being rated number one. The survivors of each region will then meet in the Final Four in Atlanta, Georgia until it gets down to one.

The “madness” that is so often associated with this tournament stems from the number of games played in such a short time period. In addition, that craziness comes from the upsets that we see every year. It’s the small schools that no one has heard about taking down the powerhouses of college basketball that make this tournament so special.

When it comes to this season, the title March Madness seems like an understatement due to the copious number of upsets that took place throughout the regular season. The upsets occurred so regularly that it was almost a curse to be ranked No.1 in the country.

More than any season, this year’s teams seem to be evenly matched with no clear powerhouse. Throughout the regular season no team proved to be dominate or even hold on to the top spot. If the trend continues, this will be one of the most unpredictable NCAA tournaments in history and may even create a new nickname for the insanity of the tournament. 

Now to one of the most difficult tasks a sports fan is faced with all year, filling out their bracket. There are always the naive and hopeful enthusiasts who attempt to accurately predict each and every game of the tournament, 67 to be exact. For those of you who need statistics to prove a point, there has never been a perfect bracket in the history of college basketball and, according to the Wall Street Journal, there is a 1-in-9 million trillion chance you are the first to create that perfect bracket.

Although there is no clear way to make the best bracket, there are a few factors that may aid in constructing your bracket.

In a season of inconsistency, it seems logical to favor experience over youth. With this year’s madness, I am taking the approach of choosing the teams that have been here before and contain strong senior leadership. More importantly, I am strongly favoring the teams with the most elite coaches as that can make all the difference in this year’s tournament.

Secondly, a team’s streak has been a solid predictor in past years. Focusing on the team’s success in their conference tournaments proves that the team is coming together at the right time and that they are capable of stringing together the necessary number of wins to be successful in the Big Dance.

Another helpful tool will be to analyze a team’s success on the road, or at neutral sites as a team with the majority of their wins at home may struggle when their fan support isn’t as strong.

The top four teams in this year’s tournament are Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga. Of those top seeds, Gonzaga may have the easiest region but it is nearly impossible to pick a winner. When it comes down to filling out your bracket, you just have to hope that you make fewer mistakes than anyone else in your pool because, in the end, that’s probably the best you can do. 

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