March Madness, for the uninformed, does not refer to the current period in late March where if the weather doesn’t break soon, you’re going to cave your own skull in with a fucking tack hammer. It’s actually called March Madness because every year around this time, people absolutely lose their shit over the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, AKA the greatest celebration of mediocrity in the world. Normally, I don’t give two shits about college basketball. If I want to watch skilled players I watch the NBA, and if I wanted to watch a bunch of shitty ones I’d just go hang around the nearest high school. Or at least I would, if the administration weren’t so uppity about grown men mingling with their students. She said she was 15, but I figured she had to be lying because she looked way older.
For whatever reason, March Madness is the one time of the year when girls actually seem to care about sports of any kind. I guess I see why, because with 64 fucking teams in the tournament, everyone has someone to root for. Plus, for a lot of the schools that consistently make it in, basketball is really all they’re good at. Ask someone at Valparaiso to name three football players, for instance. Do they even HAVE a football team? Exactly. The players become minor celebrities, and the tournament is the one time per year that the students allow themselves to forget that they’re wallowing away the best years of their lives in some Godforsaken middle-American shithole. But even if you normally don’t care, if you have a bracket you have some skin in the game. The deadline for most brackets is tomorrow, so let’s take a look at some of the key teams in this year’s tournament. Honestly, you could fill a bracket out by doing coin flips for each game because that’s how most of them end up looking, but anyway…
The tournament consists of 64 teams divided across four regions: South, West, Midwest, and East. Within each regions, the teams are seeded numbers 1-16. The regions more or less correspond to the schools’ locations, but not really (for instance UNLV is in the East region and Minnesota is in the South). In each region, the best teams start out playing the shittiest teams, and then from there they go where fate takes them. Each round, the number of teams remaining is cut in half until only two remain to fight it out. The rounds come with cutesy nicknames as follows: 64 – “The Big Dance”; 32 – Nothing, somehow; 16 – “The Sweet 16”; 8 – “The Elite Eight”; 4 – “The Final Four”; 2 – “The National Championship Game”.
First things first, if you’re filling out a bracket and figure that the smart money is on sending all four #1 seeds to the Final Four, just quit now. That’s happened exactly once in the history of the tournament. That said, a #1 seed ends up taking it more than half the time. Also of note is that the #1 see has beaten the #16 seed in the first round every single time. At least you have that part figured out for you. Let’s looks at this year’s #1’s:
Louisville is the overall #1 seed for the entire tournament, as well as the Midwest bracket. Lots of people have them picked to win the whole thing. It’s rare that the overall #1 actually goes on to win the tournament, but it does happen.
Speaking of schools you only hear about during college basketball season, Gonzaga is #1 in the West region. Some experts I’ve seen have them as the best chance to upset Louisville, assuming both make it to the Final Four. Gonzaga is also the 2nd weakest #1 seed, statistically. They had an easy schedule this year, but get to play most of the tournament close to home. Do with that information what you will.
#1 in the South region, but statistically speaking #3 seed Florida has a better chance of going all the way if they can make it to the Elite Eight (I have no clue how they calculate this shit, but Nate Silver knows what he’s doing). If you were going to leave a #1 seed out, this would probably be the one. Plus, it’s Kansas. Ew.
I don’t know what they feed people out there (corn, presumably), but they churn out a shit ton good basketball players. Indiana is #1 in the East bracket and was the #1 team in the country for most of the season. They have without a doubt the strongest offense in the tournament, and the East is probably the weakest bracket save for Syracuse. Not a bad (if unpopular) pick to win it all.
A few things to keep in mind when filling out a bracket/pretending to give a shit about March Madness:
Upsets: Upsets are what make the tournament interesting, and they happen every year. Everyone loves a “Cinderella story”. It’s worth noting though that the lowest seed to make it to the Final Four was a #11.
Duke: Basketball and rape are the two things Duke does best. They are always somehow in the thick of things, even when no one gives them much of a chance. Don’t forget about them.
Leave your school pride out: I don’t care if you went to Liberty (does anyone?), don’t pick them to beat Louisville in the first round. If you went to UNC, don’t pick against Duke just because you hate them. If you don’t care, then do whatever you want. Pick based on mascots for all I care.
Have fun: The reason why girls hate March Madness less than most sporting events is because it’s fucking fun. Everyone’s getting into it, offices are projecting the games in conference rooms, and people are in a good mood. If you’re at a school that’s favored to win, shit will be insane. Can you imagine being at a little #10 or #11 school when it upsets a higher seed? For instance, I wonder how many children were conceived in 2006 when #11 George Mason made it to the Final Four.
That should cover it. Feel free to send me your brackets if you have one so I can make fun of and/or steal them. Until next time, thanks for putting up with the sports shit.