March, a very dreary month during the year in North America with winter supposedly ending. In the world of sports, the MLB is just getting underway, the NFL draft is around the corner and in the NHL and NBA, the playoff matchups are starting to set. All of that is fine and dandy, but in the month of March (and April), sports fans turn all their focus to the madness. In March, NCAA March Madness takes over TV airwaves and turns dreams into reality. The ultimate do or die type tournament can have any hot team take a run at national pride. It sweeps up the sports world by giving TV airtime to schools and athletes that most average fans have never heard about.
The tournament is a simple 64 team bracket that shrinks by half with each passing game, eventually boiling down to what the tournament calls, the Sweet 16, the Elite 8, the Final 4 and well, then, the Finals. Shockingly enough, the final has too much allure on its own to need a cool nickname like the other rounds.
Regardless, the tournament sounds simple but the complication comes in the form of the ranking systems and the fact that there are four divisions to compete in, which seemingly have something to do with geography. Getting into the tournament is no easy task for the schools and it is something that every team takes seriously, given the potential for ultimate victory as well as a nice chunk of change for the school. The billions upon billions of dollars that are spent on this tournament every year is astronomical and it keeps growing.
It’s the purest form of competition, as it is kids giving it their all because they want to win and want to play basketball professionally one day. They are not making money now, so showing everyone that you have what it takes is all that matters. The players go full speed and do not stop to think of anything else. Make a name for yourself in March, and you may have set yourself up nicely for the rest of your life.
All the while, the fans watching these games get even more into it than the players sometimes. Every game means something and the roller coaster of ups and downs is phenomenal. It is basketball after all and lead changes in a game are very common. The fans that get into the games, however, are not always true blue fans of the school they attend or attended. They are just people who like basketball and like the drama of non-baby millionaires going at it. This sometimes causes confusion or questions that an average fan would be asking themselves in the month of March or while watching the tournament. Here’s the top 10 questions, we believe, that people will be asking from their couches.
10. So Where are all These Colleges Anyway?
In this tournament, there are 64 teams. Some of the college’s locations are obvious enough, as you’d figure where Michigan State and Ohio State are located if you have a basic grasp of American geography. Other colleges like Baylor, Creighton and Dayton give nothing away with their name. The average fan may adopt a team because he saw a game and liked the way they played, but have no idea where they are from. It doesn’t even matter really. Not for the fan anyway, as he or she is enjoying their basketball and the least of their worries is what state this team may actually be from.
9. Do These Players get Anything for Being Here?
The answer, of course, is no. NCAA rules exclude players from any sort of remuneration, no matter how much the college makes because of their exploits. That may change in the future, but for now, the answer is no and it is definitely something that an average fan may wonder about. They are watching students give everything to win something prestigious for the school on television. It may only be natural to assume that they players are receiving some sort of payment for this, isn’t it? Now the politics of the NCAA are not to be debated here, but surely it’s possible that there is some sort of program in place that allows players some privileges should they be the ones to capture a national title, though the NCAA would strictly deny that anything like that goes on in any of their sports. Not everyone knows that however.
8. Who Schedules These Games?
There are always talks about how tournaments are really meant to pin the best against the best. Then, in the March Madness tournament, you always hear some sort of murmurs that pitting two schools against each other will be better suited for television and will bring in more money for the network and the schools. So who is it who really decides which teams play against which? There are the rankings, sure, that decides one part of it but the fact remains that the average fan does not even know how the bracket that he is filling out came to be.
7. How do the rankings work?
In the same vein as the actual scheduling of the games, things that are heard around the end of February and early March are how is this team ranked here? Who didn’t they beat to be ranked second instead of first? How can it be that an undefeated team is not ranked first? Didn’t they have to play against a team that was also undefeated? There are no ties in basketball so what gives? Average fans all over the place can be asking themselves questions like this during the whole tournament because the fact remains that the rankings are probably a very simple thing but no one bothers to learn how it is done. Ignorance is not the key in something like this. People gamble away millions of dollars on things that they do not even bother to fully comprehend. That alone is shocking.
6. How can any Team Have a Rival?
Radio stations announcers will often insinuate that the two teams playing don’t like each other. It is a natural part of sport. Rivalries often go deeper than the players on the court and spill into the stands, however, in a tournament like this one, where there are so many teams and the teams differ every year, how can any school hate another school? How often could the luck of the draw pin the same schools against each other in consecutive years? The answer of course can be that the schools play each other over the course of their regular seasons, but average fans do not know the schedules of these schools. Most do not that these teams have season apart from this once-a-year tournament, so that is why the question can come to mind.
5. How Come They Skipped a Week of How I Met Your Mother?
When the tournament comes on, CBS basically shuts down. Their television series are postponed by one week at least and while the TV show executives know this, the average fan forgets EVERY year. There is always that moment when you go sit down to watch your favorite CBS show and you flip to the channel to see that a bunch of young kids are playing basketball. Then of course, you don’t cry about it and you watch some very entertaining basketball and wait to be disappointed by the finale of How I Met you Mother one week later than planned.
4. Why are There Only Two Halves?
Imagine gambling on the over/under of a March Madness basketball game and after the first half you are excited because a bunch of points were scored and you still have three quarters left. The problem is, a half of basketball just finished, not a quarter like you would be used to seeing in every NBA game you have ever watched. The NCAA works with two halves and one break. Halftime, that is it, that is all. Games are shorter and perhaps more intense, but regardless of the reasoning behind it, it trips up at least one average fan every year.
3. There are Four Sections and Each Section has a Best Team?
It is a fairly simple concept to grasp when it is written out like that, however, when you keep hearing that two first ranked teams advanced, you begin to wonder. How can two teams be ranked first? How come these teams do not play each other nationally and get ranked one to sixty four? That would be cool but it is not how it is done. Instead they divide the teams up geographically then rank them one to sixteen.
2. A 16 Seed has Never Beaten a 1 Seed? Ever?!
No, it has never happened. It is a seemingly impossible number to comprehend because it is sports after-all. Everything happens in sports. Teams have come back from 3-0 deficits in best of seven series and won. Teams that snuck into the playoffs have knocked off the best teams and won championships. It does not happen every year, but in any sport there are stories like those. Yet, in the NCAA March Madness tournament, it has never happened. Perhaps the number one ranked teams are just way too strong, as they are generally teams that have dominated their leagues so badly that the seasons are not even a challenge for them, but still, it has to happen one day. Right?
1. No One has Ever had a Perfect Bracket?
As shocking as the fact that no 16 seed has ever upset a number one seed, this feat of submitting a perfect bracket is just as unbelievable. Besides the fact that dumb luck would have something to do with it, there is also just the fact that the volume of brackets that are filled up has to have eventually led to one being perfect.
What we don’t realize, is that the odds of doing it are ridiculous. But so is winning the lottery and so is getting struck by lightning. Both of those things have happened to people, so why not this? Well, the odds of correctly filing out a bracket is one in 128 billion. Yes, billion. So perhaps by sheer dumb luck someone could have posted something that was perfect, but it would actually take magical, wonderful, miraculous luck to actually complete a perfect bracket. You have better odds of being stuck by lightning multiple times.