March mania

As we are in the midst of the NCAA basketball tournament, students share their experiences watching games and filling out brackets.


Courtney Krebs

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, which began on March 18 and lasts until April 5, provides college basketball fans with 19 days of games filled with upsets, buzzer beaters and crazy moments.

Jack Nitz, Sports Editor

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, which began on March 18 and lasts until April 5, provides college basketball fans with 19 days of games filled with upsets, buzzer beaters and crazy moments. Fans often refer to this time as “March Madness” due to the craziness and excitement that it brings. Junior Zachary Yates said one of his favorite parts about March Madness is the upsets and how they are difficult to predict.

“The great thing about March Madness is that everything is unpredictable. This year we’ve already seen a 15-seed beat a 2-seed and a 14-seed beat a 3-seed so it goes to show anything can happen,” Yates said.

The tournament consists of a total of 67 games and at times there can be three or four games on at the same time. Junior Nicole Hiemenz said it is difficult to keep up with all the games, but she said she has done her best to watch as many as possible.

“There are so many games, especially at the beginning of the tournament, but my family and I try to watch all of them. We always have the games on at our house and sometimes I even pull them up on my phone at my little brother’s sporting events,” Hiemenz said.

Being out of town for the first two rounds of the tournament, senior Ethan Hunt said it was difficult to keep track of all the games, but he did his best, getting updates on his phone and watching on TV when he could.

“It was hard to keep up with the first two rounds because I was out of the country. I was getting a lot of updates on my phone and if a team was on upset watch I’d pay close attention to it,” Hunt said. “Now, I have made the tournament a part of my day and I get done with my school work right when I get home so I can sit down on the couch and relax when the games start.”

When the tournament was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, Yates said he was disappointed as March Madness is something he was looking forward to. He said his basement had just been remodeled and said he was excited to be able to watch multiple games at once. This year, Yates said he has enjoyed March Madness and has been able to watch a lot of the games.

“We redid our basement and it was finished just before the tournament was supposed to begin last year and that was pretty disappointing. We have three TVs so I was really looking forward to being able to watch multiple games at once. This year has been great as I’ve watched a ton of the games and having multiple games on at once makes it more enjoyable,” Yates said.

Apart from watching the games, many fans fill out brackets, where they predict the winner of each game. According to the American Gaming Association, roughly 70 million brackets are filled out each year. Brackets can be completed online on websites such as ESPN and CBS or by printing them out, which is the option Hiemenz and her family opt for.

“My family has been filling out brackets for as long as I can remember. When we first started doing it we printed them out and we’ve continued that tradition despite being able to do them online,” Hiemenz said.

When filling out brackets, Hunt said he uses trends from previous years and his own analysis of teams that he watched during the regular season.

“When I fill out brackets, I always pick one 14 over 3 upset and a couple 12 over 5 and 13 over 4 upsets. 90% of the time there is at least one 12 over 5 upset and 70% of the time a 13 over 4. Ultimately, I just trust my gut and go with the teams that I watched during the season,” Hunt said.

For Yates, only one bracket isn’t enough as he said he filled out 19 brackets this year, some serious, others just for fun.

“This year I made 19 brackets. I have one that’s in a contest with my friends that I’m actually winning right now and another in a contest with my family. The rest I just did for fun and I picked a lot of crazy upsets in those. My strategy for the brackets is to have a few bold upset picks and those are usually a mid-major team that I think can beat a major conference team,” Yates said.

Similar to Hiemenz and Yates, Hunt said he fills out brackets in competitions with family and friends. In addition to these brackets, Hunt said his job and the gym he attends offered bracket contests for prizes.

“I’ve been doing bracket contests for as long as I can remember with my family. We have a trophy that we give to the winner each year and it’s always fun to compete with them,” Hunt said. “This year, the gym I go to has a contest and the winner gets a jersey. Also, at my job there is a bracket contest and the winner gets a gift card.”