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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Impossible Bracket of March Madness

NCAA Basketball

If you are a fan of college basketball, you typically wait zealously for March to arrive. March is packed with the excitement of all the conference championships, as well as the more intriguing NCAA March Madness. Millions of people partake in filling the brackets with their predictions, then watching the accuracy of their foresight unfold.

This year, the usual powerhouses such as the University of North Carolina, Kansas University, and Duke University were favorites to win the championship, but a handful of lower seeds including Xavier University, Middle Tennessee State University, and Wichita State University possessed the ability to surprise fans.

Though there was a lot of anticipation for the thrills of March Madness, the round of 64 lacked the usual “madness” seen in previous years. This round was predictable, and provided hardly any stunners. The only few upsets of the round included the eleventh-seed University of Rhode Island beating sixth-seed Creighton University, the twelfth-seed Middle Tennessee beating fifth-seed Minnesota State University, and the sixth-seed University of Maryland losing to eleventh-seed Xavier. The game between University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University proved to be the most entertaining game, which saw USC winning by one.

There were other enjoyable games, but there was an absence of wild finishes and gigantic upsets. Which, fans could only hope, meant that the madness was set to commence in the round of 32.

Due to most of the higher-seed teams advancing, the difference between the remaining teams was not significant. Xavier was the only true “Cinderella” of the tournament to continue its dance into the sweet 16.

The madness began to unravel when eighth-seed University of Wisconsin ended first-seed Villanova University’s journey. And then eleventh-seed University of South Carolina handed title-favorite second-seed Duke an early exit.

With these shockers, the East Region title is now up for grabs. A case could be made for any of the competing teams to win the east side of the bracket. Wisconsin is going to take on Florida, while South Carolina will play Baylor University to determine which two teams will battle for a Final Four spot.

The action in other regions was more subtle. I already mentioned Xavier moved on to the sweet 16, as they steamrolled third-seed Florida State, providing the only real surprise in the West Region. In the Midwest, second-seed University of Louisville’s loss to seventh-seed Michigan State University was the lone noteworthy result, while the Southern bracket saw of all the top-four seeded teams advance.

Of 18.8 million brackets filled on ESPN, 162 remained perfect after the round of 64. All things considered, 162 is a relative high number for perfect brackets. But after the round of 32, none maintain this perfect record. Although you won’t find any perfect brackets, 18 entries managed to have all of the sweet sixteen participants in the correct order.

Even though this tournament has not been as chaotic as it typically is, the odds of picking a perfect bracket are so astronomical that it is practically impossible. The odds of picking an errorless bracket all the way through the championship game are estimated to be one in 9.2 quadrillion. Even if someone had access to the most advanced analytics and intelligent systems, the odds are still one in 2.5 billion.
These unsurmountable odds are part of what make March Madness great. Even in a year when the results have been for the most part what was expected, the outcomes that have yet to be determined could change the game in a hurry.