The month of March is every sports fan’s dream. With the NBA and NHL seasons winding down and gearing up for the playoffs, Spring Training begins.
But there’s one event in particular that garners the attention of most sports fans.
It’s a 65 team tournament to determine the champion of Division I College Basketball.
Teams are divided into four separate regions and play one another depending on their seeding.
Eventually it winds down to four teams who play in the Final Four and the champion is decided in the National Championship game.
This year, the Final Four is being held at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
The NCAA Tournament first started back in 1939 with an eight-team format, but it’s grown in both size and popularity since then.
“I think the NCAA Tournament represents everything good in the sports world,” said Brandon Haraway, a student at ASU.
Millions of fans throughout the country root for their favorite school or their alma mater during the three weeks of non-stop basketball action.
But it has become much more than that over the last decade.
The tournament has recently gathered even more exposure and popularity with fans filling out a bracket allowing them to pick the winner of each individual game during the entire tournament.
Groups of people will often gather to form a league amongst friends or colleagues.
“I think that filling out brackets are a good source of fun for the workplace or among friends,” said MCC student Brandon Sharp. “Other than that, the only point in doing one is for fantasy sports experts and college basketball experts.”
“Office pools” have become popular in recent years.
Coworkers will form a league in an office setting usually associated with a chance for financial gain.
The goal is to have their bracket as close to being correct as possible and gain the most points.
These types of leagues can also be found on the web.
There are hundreds of sites allowing these leagues with Yahoo! and ESPN being two of the most popular.
To get the winning bracket, strategies vary from person to person. Each team is ranked, giving fans a basis to go off of for predicting winners.
The tendency for the lower seed to beat the higher seed has risen over time, making it more difficult to fill out a bracket with complete confidence.
“I usually go by my gut and if I’ve seen the team play, I’ll try to decide who I think has an advantage in pressure situations,” Haraway said.
While some feel that getting the winning bracket relies more on luck, others do research to gain an edge.
“I look at the match-ups and try to determine if a team has momentum going into the tourney and if they are a proven or battle-tested team,” ASU student Chris Celani said.
March is here and filling out tournament brackets can be expected to be as mad as ever.
The bracket this year will be set on March 16, with most of the first games taking place on March 20.
There is one game that will take place on March 19 to determine the final 16th seed.