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The Penndulum

The Penndulum

How-To Prepare for March Madness

An empty March Madness Bracket

The first ever referral to March Madness originated from an Illinois high school official in 1939 but didn’t find its fame until CBS broadcaster Brent Musberger, who mentioned it during coverage of the 1982 tournament. Since the start of it 42 years ago, the total average viewing is nearly 10 million in the United States. As the popularity of March Madness continues to grow, so does the participation and anticipation of the research, brackets, and victories that all entail these games. John Howley and Carl Tyce are both active watchers and participants in this year’s tournament, whether for pure enjoyment or competition among friends. With 70 million brackets made each year, there has surprisingly never been a perfect bracket made in the tournament’s history. The chances of this taking place are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. When asking Howley if the history of a never-perfect bracket discourages him, he says, “Not at all. Someone has to be a first, so why not try? The chances are low, but it’s not impossible. It makes me more inclined to do it.” Howley always has sports on in his house, especially when it is anything from where he’s an alumnus from, Kentucky. Despite endless research, the history of March Madness has proven to be nothing short of unpredictable. As a high school science teacher, Tyce knows the odds are stacked against him when filling out his brackets. His preparedness looks much different from that of active watchers and supporters of college sports. When asked what he does for his bracket, he states, “I watch no regular-season basketball of any sort. I catch games my roommates or friends have on. I do not care much about basketball.” People take many different routes and opinions to fill out their brackets. As history has shown, there are no right or wrong ways to go about this tournament. For the people who feel lost or want to get some basic information on how to participate in March Madness, I have experienced, researched, and watched to help you do your best.

The first step to participating in March Madness is retrieving your bracket. This could be done either digitally through, or you can find an up-to-date bracket for this year and print your own. Whichever way you choose, you can make multiple, which will help your chances of having a bracket that doesn’t fail within the first round of games. Now, with whichever version you have chosen, become comfortable with the layout and the teams participating. The bracket must be completed before the first tip-off of the first game if you are competing against others in a league. This will help you when filling it out in the next step.

Once you feel comfortable with the first step, you can start filling out the victors of the first-round games. With a total of 68 teams in the tournament and seven rounds, you want to start with the games on the outermost edge and work your way in. This way, you can go based on your previous game winners, which at the same time leaves room for errors. Picking who wins can be the hardest part, mostly because of the unpredictability of each game. Upset games are what cause most people’s brackets to crumble, and there’s no way to predict or stop this. An upset game is when a higher-seeded team beats a lower-seeded team in the bracket. When this happens in the tournament, most brackets fail; this year, the biggest upset was number three-ranked Kentucky and 14-seed Oakland. The criteria for picking a winner can range from long-extensive research to determining which schools have a cuter/better mascot. The inconsistent environment can irritate most fans yet keep them returning for more. You have completed your bracket once you have a final winner in the middle of your page.

The hard part is over; you can now relax, enjoy the riot, and relish the sacred March Madness. Once you have joined your leagues or finalized your bracket, all you have to do is sit back and watch. Knowing the game schedule will help you stay up-to-date. These crazy games will have you on the edge of your seat, cheering for either team. Hopefully, your winner will pass the first round, and no huge upsets will occur. Either way, win or lose, you have done something new and learned more about college basketball. Who knows, maybe this will inspire you to make a bracket next year!


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About the Contributor
Sophie Craig, Student Writer
Sophie Craig, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include hanging out with friends, cooking, baking, reading, traveling, working out, and lying in her bed. Sophie plans to attend a four-year college and is still undecided about what she will be studying. Sophie does not know where or what she will end up doing but she hopes she can help people in her life.

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