The last Friday in March is usually not the happiest for March Madness fans. By this time, the Sweet 16 has come and your bracket was busted by a pesky double-digit seed knocking off your national champion to be and looking outside one sees that the “start” of spring is total malarkey. But, what many miss is the multiple-choice exam that is a bracket can be helpful to get one’s mind off those other exams driving him/her insane this time of year.
The weeks directly before and after spring break this year means, for most students, a stressful five-day run of exams and papers being due. It is a span of anxiety, long nights at the library, probably extending to time in the 24-hour room, or a desk in a dorm. Whether it is figuring out what the heck a radical is, how one chemical compound differs from another or some other seemingly impossible topic, which this writer would weep at the sight of, the boat for those experiencing midterms is jam-packed. However, the NCAA Division I men’s basketball selection committee may have given students a short-term get out of jail free card.
The opening Sunday of spring break, known as “Selection Sunday,” was a national holiday for Division I men’s basketball fans. It meant another year of hope that one could unlock the secret that is picking the perfect bracket, so he/she could win that pool with friends, co-workers or, this year, even a billion dollars from Warren Buffett. Fans spend the four-day stretch from Selection Sunday to the start of the tournament on Thursday vigorously searching the Internet for the best college basketball analysts’ picks, while keeping an eye on the television where Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps are breaking down the bracket on ESPN. The real secret is actually to just have fun with it.
It has become evident over the years that the most successful brackets are usually done by casual fans or those who do not watch a game all year. That is the fun of March Madness. Whether one could care less or is deeply invested in a certain collegiate program, he/she can fill out a bracket and join the fun. A bracket can be picked based on expert opinions, just based on which school has a cooler mascot or who has cooler jerseys. The madness of the NCAA Tournament is not limited to the games taking place on the court anymore. Now, the wacky bracket-picking methods and seeing who can pick the biggest upsets are half the fun too. Getting a group of friends together to pick brackets, whether everyone likes basketball or not, could be just what your group needs to forget about midterms, even if it is for just a few hours.
So, even though the tournament is down to its final 12 teams at this point, get together with your friends and make some picks of who will hoist the trophy in Arlington, Texas on April 7. Then, get some food and drinks, find a TV, sit back, enjoy the rest of the madness and forget your madness.