Looking back on March Madness
April 12, 2017
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March has passed, and spring has arrived. This includes the beginning of a new baseball season and both basketball and hockey playoffs.
Unfortunately, spring also brings an end to the madness.
Before March Madness began, I wrote a piece providing personal tips on how to fill out a bracket as close to perfect as possible. Now, it’s time to check my own work. Let’s begin:
1. Pick at least one #12 seed to upset a #5 seed
“Almost every year, a #5 seeded team loses to a #12. It’s a tradition.”
#5 Minnesota lost to #12 Middle Tennessee State, 81-72. This is a result just about everyone saw coming. Minnesota’s starting shooting guard and emotional leader Akeem Springs tore his Achilles in the Big Ten tournament, which ruled him out for March Madness.
Predictions correct: 1/6
2. A mid-major, yes that includes Gonzaga, won’t win it all
“Unfortunately, for smaller programs, which includes #1 seed Gonzaga, it always ends up being the same teams who hoist the trophy and cut down the nets.”
I’ll get to the “same teams” comment in a bit, but for now let’s discuss how close this prediction came to being wrong. Six points, that’s how close.
North Carolina outlasted Gonzaga in an ugly National Championship game to take the trophy home 71-65. It still holds true that the last mid-major to win it all was Texas Western in 1966.
Predictions correct: 2/6
3. Don’t pick every #1 seed to go to the Final Four
“It’s very rare to see the Final Four feature all four #1 seeds. It’s so rare that it has only happened once since 1979.”
That fact still rings true, as only two #1 seeds, Gonzaga and North Carolina, made it to the Final Four this year.
Wisconsin, given a lower seed than they deserved, took down reigning champs Villanova in the second round while Oregon knocked out Kansas in the Elite Eight to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 1939 (which was the very first NCAA tournament, consisting of eight teams).
Predictions correct: 3/6
4. Go with tradition
“…if we look back at all the champions since the turn of the century, we see many familiar faces: Duke, North Carolina, Connecticut, Kentucky and Kansas.”
North Carolina captured its first championship since 2009, but this was its second straight championship appearance and fifth Final Four appearance since the turn of the century.
As much as many people want the underdogs to reign supreme, which Gonzaga almost did, it’s almost always the same blue blood powerhouses. This year solidifies that fact.
Predictions correct: 4/6
5. Bet on blue
“Since 1990, 21 of the 27 National Champions have had blue as either their primary or secondary color.”
This year, the color blue was represented on only half of the Final Four, with Oregon and South Carolina making appearances.
But, the championship featured both blue teams giving this prediction 100 percent certainty. The only thing up for debate was which shade of blue would become king. This year, it turned out to be Carolina Blue.
Predictions correct: 5/6
6. Have fun with it
“March Madness is an annual event, a magical time of Cinderellas and buzzer-beaters.”
While the tournament did not have any major upsets in the first round, fans did see some magical runs by middle-seeded teams.
Xavier impressed the world by taking down Maryland, Florida State, and Arizona before falling to Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.
South Carolina did the unthinkable by defeating Duke in the second round, then going on all the way to the Final Four. While the result of the tournament wasn’t much of a surprise, there were many exciting elements that made this March Madness just as fun as past ones.
Predictions correct: 6/6
Wow, all six came true. Maybe I know a thing or two. Or, maybe I just got lucky.
I hope my advice helped you make a perfect bracket, even though the odds of that happening are literally one in 9.2 quintillion. If you were nowhere near perfect, I apologize and I wish you the best of luck in next year’s bracket.
I had fun watching and rooting on my Gonzaga Bulldogs to a mere six points from immortality and I had a blast watching this amazing tournament unfold. I hope you did too.
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