“The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, is a single-elimination tournament that happens each spring featuring 68 of the top college basketball teams in the country. As spring begins to spring out of the environment, intense basketball fans prepare for the most competitive competition of the year.”
College basketball fans live for the month of March. From the overtimes to the crazy student sections, to the famed upsets, March Madness is a basketball lover’s paradise. Not only are the teams themselves competing against each other, but amateurs and experts alike are playing their own game, trying to predict the perfect bracket.
Everyone loves a Cinderella story, but nobody wants to bust their bracket. Last year, during the 2018 tournament, it was the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers who shocked the nation, as the number 16 seed beat number one seeded University of Virginia, who millions of people picked to win overall. According to The Washington Post, only two percent of brackets correctly chose this upset, which was the first time in NCAA tournament history that a number 16 seed beat their number one opponent in the opening round of 64.
The Loyola Chicago Ramblers also had a historic run in 2018, becoming the first number 11 seed to make it to the Final Four before losing to the University of Michigan. Professional bracketologists were stunned, but despite the continual upsets that the Ramblers seemed to pull off, the whole country was behind them, as everyone was in absolute awe of their perpetual success. According to CBS Sports, sports television personality and basketball aficionado Skip Bayless admitted to this being “sheer madness,” commenting that such competition is what college basketball is all about.
So, who will it be this year? As a 12 seed, the Murray State Racers are set to take on the fifth seeded Golden Eagles of Marquette. All eyes will be on the matchup at the guard position, as Ja Morant has had an incredible sophomore season for the Racers, winning the Ohio Valley Conference’s Player of the Year after averaging almost 25 points, ten assists and five rebounds per game, according to Sports Illustrated. Are Morants’ talents enough to lead his team past his opponent Markus Howard and the Golden Eagles, with Howard being the sixth leading scorer in the nation after ending the season averaging 25 points, four rebounds, and four assists according to NCAA.com. The two crafty guards will face off in the West region, fighting for a chance to play the winner of Florida State University and the University of Vermont.
On the opposite side of the bracket, the 11th seeded Gaels of St. Mary’s will face the sixth seeded Villanova Wildcats. The Gaels are coming into the tournament hot, fresh off of a win over West region’s number one seed, the Bulldogs of Gonzaga, in the West Coast Conference Tournament. According to CBS Sports, the Gaels held Gonzaga star forward Rui Hachimura to just nine points, while Jordan Ford took over for St. Mary’s, pouring in 17 points while playing all 40 minutes. They were able to limit the nation’s most efficient offense, holding the Zags to just 47 points despite their usual average of almost 90 per game. With such defensive toughness, St. Mary’s just might be able to pull off another upset in the first round over Villanova.