What to expect in March Madness


Graphic by Margaret Heffernan

Madison Dias

March Madness is finally here—the time every college basketball fan patiently awaits. March Madness occurs at the time of the annual NCAA Division 1 collegiate seven-round tournament where 68 schools compete for the National Championship title. 

Every year, the tournament features many clear-cut favorites derived from the NCAA rankings. This year includes perennial favorites of No. 2 seed Duke, No. 5 seed Kentucky, and No. 1 seed Gonzaga. Duke and Gonzaga have both been top-seeded teams for many years now; they have coaches with over 20 years of experience in the program. Additionally, Maryland, a local team, is placed as the No. 3 seed.

 Baylor, a first-time No. 1 seed in the South, is a surprising favorite, enjoying a recent 23-game winning streak before playing Kansas. Baylor has been to the March Madness tournament 11 times, making only two Final Fours, and yet is a No. 1 seed this year. Two other surprising top teams this year are No. 1 seeds San Diego State and Dayton.

The two teams who played in the championship last year, Virginia and Texas Tech, were each placed in lower seeds this year. Virginia is going from first to 11th and Texas Tech is going from third to ninth. 

For first-time bracketers, I recommend selecting teams that have been to the championship before. With that being said, you should also not depend on the No. 1 seeds and pick at least one No. 12 or No. 13 seed to win at least one game. You never know what to expect when it comes to games since there are so many factors that play into it. Keep in mind that “Odds of a Perfect Bracket are One in 2.4 Trillion,” according to a Duke math professor. 

Taking these tips into consideration, one should also look into the posted probabilities of teams winning the championship. For instance, this year, Gonzaga has a high probability of winning the championship with their statistics being 7/1. However, for Clemson, a lower-ranked seed team, they have a 500/1 probability of making the championship.

Similarly, when making a bet, I recommend picking a team with experience who also has a veteran coach. A young team that has not been to the tournament might not know how to react to the game pressure, mass media, and overall attention they receive. As they become more used to this pressure, they will play more comfortably and to their full potential, providing themselves with a better chance of achieving greatness and a title. 

This year, mid-majors like Gonzaga, San Diego State, and Dayton are getting more attention. This demonstrates how this year we are seeing a lot more mid-majors making an impact in the tournament. Usually, big-time players are going to traditional powerhouses like Kentucky and Duke. It’s good for the game to have this variety and these surprises. For instance, last year, UMBC went as far as they did and beat the number one seed. The more unpredictable, the more exciting the games become.