March Madness, NCAA Division I’s Men’s Basketball Tournament has been canceled due to concerns over COVID-19. Many Paly students had been anticipating this tournament for months, including sophomore Roei Ziv.
“I was looking forward to it for so long, it really sucks it has to shut down,” Ziv said, “I’m disappointed.”
Every year for the past 50 years until now the NCAA provided brackets, places for fans to etch in their prediction of the winner. ESPN and Yahoo both offer their own bracket challenges, with rewards for those who make the correct guesses. And for the past seven years, Ziv has made his own.
“It adds another level of excitement to the tournaments I wouldn’t get otherwise,” Ziv said.
According to Ziv, his favorite part of March Madness is the upsets, when a low seeded, often smaller school, defeats a major basketball powerhouse. Even better, are the Cinderella stories, when an underdog school makes it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen, Final Four or even wins the tournament. And with a bracket, he has a chance at predicting all of this.
Paly basketball player and Junior Andrew Li were introduced to March Madness by Warren Buffet. The billionaire offered one billion dollars to anyone who predicted each and every game. While Li has never even come close to that prize money, he still looks forward to the third month of every year.
“I was excited about the upsets that could have happened in the first few rounds,” Li said, “Watching players from different conferences face off against each other would have been really interesting to watch.”
Junior Katie Cheng started making brackets in the third grade. Originally a Lakers fan, she began following college basketball after she and her dad made their first bracket. And she’s been making them ever since.
“When I first started, I had to make a Yahoo Sports account because that was the only place we could find a bracket,” Cheng said., “Now, they’re everywhere.”
Brian Wilson, a journalism teacher at Paly started making his brackets long before that, as a student in high school himself.
“I remember distinctly waiting for the newspaper edition that would come out the Monday after the selection show, a big, full-page, color bracket with all the team choices, and I would fill that out, pick my teams, and put it up on my wall,” Wilson said.
March Madness is also a place where fans can be introduced to new teams they have never seen before, as well as confirm long felt loyalties.
As a Michigan State graduate, Wilson watches virtually all of the team’s games. The Tournament, however, is an introduction to other college programs, he said.
Cheng follows Kansas, Duke and Kentucky, some of the most successful basketball regimes in the past century.
“It’s easier because they are always in the tournament so I can get to know the players year-to-year,” Cheng said.
Ziv takes the exact opposite approach.
“I always, always, route for the underdog,” Ziv said
However, March Madness is not only for the most avid college basketball fans.
“A lot of people who fill out brackets don’t know anything about college basketball, it’s the idea of the ‘luck of the draw that gets people to fill out brackets,” Wilson said.
Sometimes, groups of friends make brackets and compete against each other to get the most correct. For the last few years, Ziv has been making brackets with both his friends and family.
“It’s that idea of competitiveness that makes it interesting for me, going against your friends and taking risks,” Ziv said.
For Li, March Madness is sometimes even more interesting than the NBA.
“The single-elimination platform has a tendency of producing more unexpected results compared to the NBA,” Li said.
While it is extremely difficult to predict all or even most of the games, Cheng said it is too fun to stop.
Cheng said, “I know I’m never going to win, but I keep playing because it’s always super fun to pick the teams.”