March, a month filled with warming temperatures, Spring Break, and St. Patrick’s Day. However, March’s most celebrated and anticipated occasion is nothing short of its name, madness. As the college basketball season winds down and the postseason approaches, the greatest sporting event of the year begins. The NCAA Basketball Tournament, aptly named March Madness, includes 68 of the best college basketball teams from around the country.
Why March Madness is So Special:
Unlike other sporting tournaments such as the College Football Playoff, March Madness is truly anyone’s game. Even teams who’ve had a lackluster regular season will have a chance to participate in the madness. The winner of each conference tournament, there are 32, will receive an automatic bid into the tournament. This allows for smaller teams such as North Dakota State and Fairleigh Dickinson to have a chance to crash the party. Often times, being there isn’t the end of the road for these teams, though. Just last year, UMBC became the first ever 16 seed to beat a 1 seed. You see, March Madness is full of upsets, so the top seeds are never safe.
The Tournament’s most famous feature is by far the bracket. Millions of Americans spend countless hours sweating over the perfect picks every year only to be disappointed when their brackets are busted after the first day. What makes the bracket even more exciting are the stakes. Whether it be office groups or sports teams, people come together to form pools in which each person puts forth money that goes to the eventual winner of the group. Billionaire Warren Buffett recently proposed a million dollar annual award for life to the individual who could pick a perfect bracket, a feat that somebody has yet to accomplish. Mr. Buffett’s money seems to be in safe hands, though, as the calculated odds of completing a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion.
Who’s In this Year:
The roster of teams this year includes the usual suspects with teams such as Duke, UNC, UVA, and Gonzaga as the 1 seeds in their respective regions. However, these aren’t always the teams to watch out for. Teams from smaller schools such as 7 seed Wofford and 12 seed Murray State have had phenomenal seasons and are coming into the tournament hot off of winning their conference tournaments. These teams have an interesting advantage as they come in as relative underdogs to larger schools. This often sets up the perfect scenario for teams to fall prey to a trap game. A trap game is where a team is looking too far ahead and doesn’t come prepared for the game they are playing, and in the Big Dance even one mistake can mean the end of your season.
Without a doubt, the reason everyone loves March Madness is the fact that any team can beat anyone else on the right day. Unlike the NBA, there is never a safe bet on who will win a game. Here at the Talon, our knowledgeable staff members have taken it upon ourselves to use our divine powers to accurately predict exactly which teams are going to see their time at the Big Dance end all too soon.
As my personal favorite team in the field, it’s impossible not to pick Murray State to win at least one game. After all, with the electric Ja Morant leading the team at point guard, the Racers definitely have the talent to beat 5 seed Marquette.
In the East region, several teams sit poised to spring an upset. The Yale Bulldogs may be known for their smarts, but they can certainly play basketball too. At 22-7, don’t sleep on Yale, especially against an LSU team attempting to avoid the distraction of a recruiting scandal.
It seems like every year a 13 seed comes close to beating a 4 seed, so why not pick the upset this year. Northeastern, winners of the Colonial Athletic Conference will face 4 seed Kansas. Kansas is coming off a disappointing regular season, so it may not be all that unlikely for Northeastern to pick up a win.
Best Mascot in the Tournament:
According to researchers at the University of Hawaii, there are approximately 7.5 quintillion grains of sand on planet Earth. So if we were to take all those grains of sand and choose one, you would have a better chance of picking the correct one than filling out a perfect bracket. With this in mind, why not make your picks based on something hilarious? This is where the mascots come into play. While some schools opt to have a generic mascot such as the Tigers or the Wildcats, we believe the teams with a more creative mascot instantly have the advantage. Kansas State better watch their backs as they have to square off with the UC Irvine Anteaters in the first round. Professional opinion: Anteaters are gonna eat. Joining the Anteaters on the winners side is likely to be the St. Louis Billikens. Many of you likely don’t know what a billiken is, well lucky for you, I have internet access. A billiken is a mythical creature which represents “good luck to be” or in other words this is a flashing sign saying that St Louis will topple 4 seed Virginia Tech. Other notable
mascots include the Oregon Ducks (who doesn’t love a giant duck), the Arizona State Sun Devils (a devil from the sun, classic), the Northern Kentucky Norse (basically Thor, God of Thunder and Avenger), and the Syracuse Orange (the color, not the fruit). The mascot that takes the cake and will without a doubt win the tournament is St John’s mascot The Red Storm, aka “Johnny Thunderbird”. This is about as big a power move as a school can make. Red Storm win the Dance.
St. John’s Mascot Johnny Thunderbird