This year, St. Patrick’s Day marks not only luck for the Irish, but the beginning of the NCAA basketball tournament known as March Madness. Originating back in 1939, the 64-team tournament draws basketball fans and gamblers alike to their TVs to see who will take home that year’s championship title.
After an initial “play-in” game between the 64th and 65th seeds, the tournament breaks into four regions of 16. The winning teams from those regions then comprise the Final Four, who meet in that year’s host city and compete for the highly coveted NCAA Championship Title.
ESPN documented 13.02 million brackets made by fans this year and entered into the Tournament Challenge (a competition hosted yearly to see if anyone is able to fill out a perfect bracket). The odds of filling out a perfect bracket have been calculated by math professors in the United States to be 1 in 9.2 quintillion. That’s 9.2 followed by 18 zeros. This is calculated based on selecting teams like the toss of a coin. Because the odds of a perfect bracket are so small, those of us at the Peak decided to turn to some people who knew the ins and outs of basketball pretty well to see who they predict will win the NCAA Championship.
Michael Harper, a small forward for the SFU Men’s Basketball team, predicts that Duke University will win the tournament. A “longtime fan of the Blue Devils,” Harper says that because Duke is in the Western division — which doesn’t include a lot of other powerhouse teams — they will “have an easier route to the tournament finals.” Harper also brought up the point that many upsets occur in March Madness, making it really hard to predict what is going to happen.
In fact, Ellen Kett, the point guard for SFU’s women’s basketball team, is hoping for a few upsets to occur. “Everyone loves an underdog; I would love to see a Cinderella story,” Kett said. Yale overtook Baylor in a 79–75 point final earlier this morning for example, a move that wasn’t in very many people’s brackets. The UALR and Purdue game was also well-fought, with number 12 ranked UALR overtaking the Boilermakers 85–83.
Gibran Sewani, another forward on the men’s team, agrees that it is hard to predict who is going to get that championship title saying that “every major program has gone down and lost big games.”
Sewani’s pick for the tournament title champions seems to be pretty foolproof. Twenty-five percent of ESPN analysts, along with Sewani, argue that the Kansas Jayhawks are the team to beat. Sewani’s faith in the Jayhawk’s capabilities stems from the fact that they have “a lot of older guys who have been with the team from the beginning. They know how to work together and get things done to get the win.” He also reluctantly admits “a lot of teams have a good shot at winning this year.”
We’ll have to wait a while to see if the Jayhawks do, in fact, make it to the Conference Finals. March Madness games continue tomorrow, narrowing down to the Sweet Sixteen who will play on March 24 and 25. Tune in to the NCAA March Madness Finals on April 4 to see if any of our SFU Basketball players managed to predict the 2016 reigning champs.