Students watch March Madness but do not fill out brackets


Sam TapperContributor

For many basketball fans across the country, March only means one thing. No, not the start of spring. Not National Pi Day either, or St. Patrick’s Day. March is about the “madness” of the NCAA Tournament.

The 2019 NCAA men’s college basketball season has been one for the books, and Duke’s Zion Williamson, the number one freshman recruit in the country coming in and who is often compared to the great LeBron James, may be the biggest reason this year’s tournament brings so much excitement.

With the tournament comes the famed challenge of making a bracket. Millions across the country participate in the yearly challenge to predict the tournament outcome, with their picks to win or lose each game being anything from in-depth analysis to a coin-flip. Regardless of the method taken, it’s an exciting, enjoyable experience for all who participate.

“The thrill of it is just amazing,” said sophomore Andrew Keeton. “It’s like a holiday for a whole month.”

Keeton’s approach this year is atypical to some, but a regular occurrence for other college basketball fanatics. He did not fill out one singular bracket, but instead multiple: he made ten, to be exact.

“I wanted a perfect bracket,” he said, despite the odds of that being one in 9.2 quintillion. “I had different winners, but I had a whole lot of Duke, because they have Zion.”

The odds of someone creating a perfect bracket are so unlikely, that business magnate billionaire and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffet promised to pay a million dollars a year for life to any employee who created an unblemished bracket. The closest bracket this year was busted at game number 50, which was the longest streak of correct game in NCAA history.

This week, a survey was conducted on campus to see who made brackets and who did not. Of the 22 students surveyed, only 27 percent decided to fill out brackets this year, many of whom picked the same national champion.

“I have Duke winning it all,” said Mike Neville, a sophomore. “I think Zion is an unstoppable force and I think he’s going to bring Duke a championship.”

Even those who don’t seem to pay much attention to basketball at the collegiate level, and those who did not participate in the tournament challenge this year, still seemed to favor the Blue Devils.

“I might have to go with Duke, just because it’s Duke,” said sophomore, Danny Borkowski. When asked why the choice of Duke for the tournament win, he simply responded, “Zion.”

Picking Duke to win their sixth NCAA championship banner is a safe bet for participants most years, but this year especially, due to Williamson’s presence on the team.

Zion Williamson stands 6-feet, 7-inches tall and weighs 285 pounds with a 45-inch vertical, a body type previously unheard of.

Duke not only features Williamson, – the likely number one pick in the upcoming NBA draft – but also the number two and three recruits in the nation prospective NBA lottery picks: RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, both forwards.

Aside from most students selecting the nationally ranked No. 1 Blue Devils as their champion, other students made different picks.

“My team is still in, I got Virginia winning,” said junior Brandon Romano. “They have been fighting hard for a couple of years now, they have a good team, a lot of veterans on the team, so I believe they got it.”

Not everyone seems to enjoy this year’s tournament, and contrary to most people’s high praise of Duke Basketball, others say the star-studded team has ruined it for them.

“I decided not to do it because I feel like this year it’s mostly focused around Zion Williamson,” said senior Spencer Arnel. “Everyone’s hyped about him, the next LeBron and all this stuff, and that cancels the fun out of it, not knowing who the players are and seeing all these random teams and all the upsets. I feel like we all know that Zion’s going to win it, so I didn’t feel like there was a point.”

Nobody knows what the rest of the tournament has in store, or who will come out on top in the weeks to come. One thing, however, is for sure – if Duke wins, then many Southern students will be taking home some money.

Duke did not win however, losing a closely fought game by one point to the No. 2 ranked Michigan State Trojans on Sunday.

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