An overview of March Madness

The LFA Caxy Bracket Challenge trophy is gifted to the teacher with the most successful bracket.

Photo by Ben Wetherbee

The LFA Caxy Bracket Challenge trophy is gifted to the teacher with the most successful bracket.

Nicholas Bisulca, Managing Editor of Photography

In the first-ever 1939 March Madness, Oregon beat Ohio State 46-33 for the title, and the inaugural tournament had only 8 teams. In the following decades, it was able to increase to a 68-team tournament. March Madness is an NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournament, consisting of single-elimination rounds and 68 teams competing in seven rounds for the national championship. The tournament has been held every year since 1939, except for the 2019-2020 season, in which the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One popular conversation topic of this most recent 2022 March Madness tournament was the surprising outcome of the Elite Eight. Teams ranked 15th, 10th, and 8th, found success this year and made it to the Elite Eight, beating out teams initially ranked much higher. The 8th ranked team, North Carolina, made it to the final four, then moved on to the national championship. While North Carolina ultimately lost to number 1 ranked Kansas 69-72, their success shows that the tournament depends on tempo and motivation, rather than simply their rank.

Saint Peters was among these teams, ranked as a 15 seed and making it to the Elite Eight. No team in March Madness history had come so far from such a dismissive start. According to the official NCAA March Madness account, only .87% of their millions of submissions had the Peacocks making it that far. Unfortunately, their reign came to an end when they lost to North Carolina 69-49 in the Elite Eight. Their unpredicted and unexpected success shows the world that you should never underestimate the underdog, which, now famously, practices in a tiny facility with a leaky roof. 

Another popular headline was Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s decision to retire after coaching the Blue Devils for 42 seasons. Mike Krzyzewski has been the Head Coach of Duke’s Blue Devils since 1980. The team wanted to send their legendary coach out with a National Championship, but they lost to North Carolina 77-81, bringing Krzyzewski’s farewell tour to an underwhelming end. With North Carolina being the Blue Devils’ historic rivals, losing to UNC to end Coach K’s career will only strengthen the rivalry, and bring more interesting games to our future. 

On the flip side, in the NCAA Division I women’s tournament, the first seeded South Carolina Gamecocks beat a second seeded team, the Connecticut Huskies 64-49 in the championship. After 40 years of competition, the women’s tournament is starting to more closely resemble the mens. That includes the use of the March Madness language, which the NCAA had reserved for the men’s tournament up until last fall. Fans also came out in record numbers this year, with an attendance record of 216,890 fans in the first and second rounds of the women’s tournament.

Besides watching games and rooting for a favorite team, March Madness fans also commonly make a bracket predicting the final scores and the outcome of the tournament. At Lake Forest Academy, Associate Dean of College Counseling Ben Wetherbee runs a teacher’s March Madness bracket. Wetherbee first created the bracket in 2017 and has continued it each year except for 2020. The winner of the bracket takes home a March Madness bobblehead. This 2022 season, Patrick Coyle, LFA’s Chief Communications Officer, proved most successful in predicting the outcome of the tournament and will hold the bobblehead until next March. Students also organized brackets within their friend groups, creating friendly competition within school or social environments. 

Whether you went to a certain college or you’re simply a college basketball enthusiast, you know that March Madness has been successful in bringing fans around the country to celebrate and love the sport together. Wetherbee says “ I love watching college basketball, I think it’s the purest version of the sport. You have guys playing the most team version of the game and as long as you make a bracket you have a chance to win.” March Madness, packed with entertainment and excitement, seemed to end almost as quickly as the Kentucky Wildcats run.