By Zachery Kersh and David Toronto
The odds of having a perfect bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion. You’re more likely to sink a hole-in-one, get a 5-card royal flush, and win $1 million dollars in the lottery all in the same day. Than predict a perfect bracket. Nonetheless, Americans are still fascinated by the idea of achieving perfection. This year alone, the American Gambling Association estimates 47 million Americans to wager $8.5 billion on the March Madness tournament. How and why are Americans so passionate about accomplishing the perfect bracket?
March Madness has been one of the most famous annual sporting events since its creation in 1939. Since then, people of various ages and interests have invested their time and money to hopefully win big. Sophomore Pierce Pusheck says, “All my life, my family has been huge into college basketball. I especially love March Madness for the excitement. The feeling when you win big money is one I can’t describe. In 2018, March Madness was voted the third most watched sports event in America. March Madness has withstood the test of time to remain as popular as it is today.
The competitive nature surrounding March Madness captivates people across the country, sometimes too much. Glenelg Sophomore Max Pearcy says, “Every single March my grades plummet, all I can think about is March Madness and my bracket. Whether I’m in school, at home, or at practice it’s always on my mind.” The phenomenon of the perfect bracket can cause many problems, mostly for adults in the workforce and kids in school.
The March Madness bracket is more confusing to fill out than going through a 15 mile maze. With so many different games to pick how do you fill out a perfect one? Sophomore Jeffrey Winkler describes, “I usually start by picking the higher seeds, but it’s impossible to pick all of the upsets.” So, in March Madness there is a seeding system. 1-16 are the seeds, with one being the best. You would think that the higher seeds would always win, but that’s not always the case. In this year's March Madness, there have already been 10 upsets in the first round of the tournament alone.
Lots of people have goofy superstitions, such as choosing winners based off mascots, complex tactics, or just straight up guess to try and achieve a perfect bracket. Some people use numbers or facts to decipher through their brackets. Sophomore Niko Garbis explains, “I base it off of the team’s performance during their divisions tournament and disregard their regular season record.” This is effective since tournaments different competitive atmospheres than regular season games. Pearcy states, “If a team is a low seed but has beat multiple top teams there’s a good chance for an upset.” Strategies based on evidence can be useful, but with March Madness anything is possible.
Others use less realistic approaches. Sam Holtz, the 2015 winner of ESPN's March Madness Bracket Challenge, says, “Pick whoever you want to win. There’s no science it’s just that simple,” Although he didn’t have perfect bracket Holtz still won for best overall bracket. Markham Heid, a Men’s Health writer explains, “Use alphabetical order. Over the past 3 years, you’d have gone 8-1 in all Final Four games.” Sophomore Chase Campbell says, “For the picks that I’m unsure of, I usually tell Siri to pick between two numbers- the numbers of the team’s seed.” Even though these strategies may seem less effective than more serious ones, they demonstrate that March Madness is much more a game of chance rather than skill.
No matter how people pick their brackets or how the results turn out, March Madness is looked forward to by all participants. It is an enticing time of the year for most users, and demonstrates how competition can bring people together for lots of enjoyment.