The Daily Aztec

So, how’s your bracket doing?

by Cameron Salce

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I am beginning to wonder why they call it March Madness.  Maybe it’s my original assumption that the NCAA men’s basketball tournament provides insanely great matchups that go down to the wire with upsets left and right.  Or perhaps it’s because the average fan pays zero attention to college basketball until the tournament begins in mid March.  It’s crazy to me that when it comes to most sports fans, college basketball is put on the backburner to the NBA and even the NFL offseason.  However, when March hits, the only thing that matters is that pesky bracket of yours, right?

The obsession over college basketball brackets is truly mind-boggling to me, but I would be lying if I said I was not obsessed as well.  I’ve filled out a bracket every year since I was in middle school, but I wouldn’t consider myself an avid college basketball fan until I came to San Diego State.  It seems as if everyone wants to test their basketball knowledge this time of year. Maybe everyone just wants the chance to be right when most others are wrong.

Or maybe it’s the tremendous amount of cash that can be won because of the madness of March.  Some people join groups where they can turn a small amount of money into a large profit.  But where the big money is won is on online bracket contests with big prizes for the best bracket.

The craze has swept the nation so much that even the most powerful people in the world, including President Barack Obama, is interested in the NCAA tournament.  This year, the second richest man in America, savvy investor Warren Buffet, has bet $1 billion dollars that no one on Earth will fill out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket.  Sounds risky to bet $1 billion on anything, but he didn’t become the second-richest man in America overnight.  The odds of filling out a perfect NCAA bracket are an astonishing one in 9.2 quintillion.

After the first day of the NCAA tournament, Buffet is looking like a genius. For example, more than 11 million people entered into the bracket challenge on ESPN.com and out of that group only 18,741 brackets remained unblemished after only the first day of games.

The No. 3 seed Duke Blue Devils did not make things any easier on the second day of the tournament, losing to No. 14 seed Mercer University. Duke’s loss cut the total number of perfect brackets down to a measly 2,185 out of 11 million entries before the second round of games even started.  By the end of the first round there were zero brackets in the world that remained perfect.

Which brings me back to my original question.  Why do we call it March Madness? Are we all going mad?  Why do we spend so much time making brackets, searching for expert knowledge and spend money on something nearly impossible to get right?

It’s the same reason why people buy lottery tickets to win the Mega Million jackpot.  There’s hope and excitement that comes with buying a lottery ticket, and there’s that same type of hope and excitement when you fill out a NCAA tournament bracket.

Suddenly every game on TV has meaning and you become fans of teams that you didn’t even know existed until that week.  Every game can make or break your bracket and your bank account.

That’s the beauty of March.  For a couple of weeks, sports fans forget about real-life problems and their emotions are based off one question:  “How’s your bracket doing?”

Photo from The Daily Aztec’s Bracket Challenge

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