The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Why March Madness is So Much More Popular than the NBA

Credit: Public Domain via Wikipedia

March Madness is grasping viewers’ attention as the nation’s #1 basketball spectacle.

We all know about March Madness and are all excited for the upcoming games; in fact, three million more people are tuning in compared to the NBA finals.

The NCAA Division men’s basketball tournament, known as March Madness, is a single-elimination tournament played amongst 68 men’s college basketball teams to determine the national champion at the Division 1 level. The tournament consists of 68 teams, and ever since it was first introduced in 1939 and expanded to today’s 68-team format in 2011, it has been one of the biggest sporting events in the U.S. The 2024 March Madness started on March 21 and will continue until April 8, when the championship game will be held. The UConn Huskies won the 2023 championship, and the Kansas Jayhawks took the 2022 championship trophy.

One of the biggest events of March Madness is the bracket challenge, where fans are invited to fill out brackets before the start of the tournament which predict the outcomes of every stage of the tournament; by getting the outcomes right, fans earn points that translate into potential awards. According to the the NCAA, approximately 60~100 million brackets are filled out for various purposes; gambling, online prizes, or pure fun. Mathematicians have estimated the chances of filling out a perfect bracket to be one in 9.2 quintillion, which is nearly impossible. The closest ever to a perfect bracket was done in 2019 by Gregg Nigl, an Ohio neurologist, who managed to get the first 49 games of the tournament right, falling just short of a perfect, according to the NCAA.

There are a multitude of other factors that make March Madness so popular.

Kyle Seltzer, a Williston Varsity Basketball player and a fan of college basketball, thinks that the upsets are what makes March Madness so unique.

“In March Madness, there are so many upsets compared to other games…like bad, low-ranked teams somehow beat much higher-ranked teams through dramatic moments and game-winning shots; the Kentucky vs Oakland just a few days ago was one of them,” said Kyle. “It’s these kinds of moments that make (march madness) super exciting”

In the Kentucky vs Oakland game held on March 21, the 14-seed Oakland Golden Grizzlies miraculously beat the 3-seed Kentucky Wildcats through the breathtaking 32-point performance of graduate transfer guard Jack Gohlke, as well as clutch shots made by his teammates, such as guard DQ Cole, who knocked down a three with 22 seconds left to extend the grizzlies lead to four.

Kyle also thinks that it is the moments spent watching the games with others that make the experience so genuine.

“Last year, I was watching the semi-finals and the finals with my family, and there was a big game-winner in the semi-finals that made us super excited,” he said. “As basketball fans, watching March Madness brings us together and the moments made while watching the game is what makes it so special.”

Nasheen Gibbs, a junior and a basketball fan, believes the 64-team, one-game format is what makes March Madness so competitive.

“[In the NBA], since they all go on a 7-game series, there are rarely any upsets,” he said. “March Madness is only one chance to win; if you lose, you’re out. That’s why it’s more intense and every play, every possession is more important. If you mess up one time, you’re done, and you won’t get another chance until next year.”

He also pointed out the different levels of intensity and enthusiasm between college players and professional athletes, saying that collegiate athletes “put more heart” into the game.

” I just think the NBA is a bit cautious; the players tend to sit out more and are less likely to try as hard…they won’t fight through injuries or take other intense measures,” said Nasheen. “But in March Madness, a lot of the [ players] are playing [knowing that] this is going to be their last time playing college basketball. Some are making the league and are going to have pro careers, but a lot of them know they aren’t making the league anyway, and that’s why they try to take advantage of everything.”

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