Peck: March Madness is the best American sports tournament to exist


Collegian | Courtesy photo of Madeline Davis

Aaron Peck, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. 

Every March, student-athletes compete in the NCAA Division I basketball tournaments to determine the best men’s and women’s college basketball teams in the country.


The first-ever NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament took place in 1939 and saw the University of Oregon Ducks defeat the Ohio State University Buckeyes to become the first national champions. March Madness is one of those sporting events that feels so ingrained in American culture.

March Madness often feels bigger than basketball itself and hypnotizes the American people for a short time of the year. Almost everyone has a story of predicting an upset, watching a Cinderella team or seeing a buzzer-beater from previous tournaments. March Madness unites a divided nation for a few weeks to celebrate the beautiful game of basketball, making it the best tournament in American sports.

One of the pros of March Madness is it occurs during a relatively dull part of the American sports calendar where the NFL has concluded, the NBA and NHL have not reached the playoffs and MLB is still in spring training.

In addition, the sheer quantity and frequency of games the tournament provides ensure viewers are never left bored or disappointed. The tournament includes 68 teams, seven rounds and single elimination. Men’s games typically start late in the morning on Thursday and go until late at night on Sunday for each weekend of the tournament. 

“It does not matter if you watched every game of the season, know all of the advanced statistics or studied all the matchups. Your grandma, who picked the winners based on how much she likes the mascot, still could beat you.”

March Madness begins with the First Four, which is four games played by eight teams to qualify for the traditional 64-team bracket. During the first weekend of the tournament, the first two rounds are played with 48 of the remaining teams eliminated. The following weekend includes the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight; then the weekend after is the Final Four and National Championship games.

To qualify for the tournament, teams can either win their conference championship tournament or earn an at-large bid from the NCAA tournament selection committee. Due to the drastic skill disparity between conferences, many of the matchups in the first round are mismatches with one team being heavily favored.

These David versus Goliath games create the beauty of March Madness when small underdog schools shock the country by defeating tournament favorites in the first round. Upsets are an inevitable part of March Madness and provide a special opportunity for everyone to cheer on the underdog as they make a Cinderella run to a late round.

The unquestionably best part of March Madness is filling out a bracket to compete against your friends and family. Accurately predicting the winners of the tournament is like trying to guess how many grains of sand are on a beach; it is impossible.

It does not matter if you watched every game of the season, know all of the advanced statistics or studied all the matchups. Your grandma, who picked the winners based on how much she likes the mascot, still could beat you.


However, the thrill of correctly predicting an upset or watching your friend’s national champion go out in the first round cannot be matched by many other sports events. The unpredictability and randomness of the tournament make the bracket competition so fun because anyone, even those who know nothing about basketball, can win.

March Madness is an essential part of American sports culture that has created endless moments, memories and memes. From the “One Shining Moment” compilations of players giving their all in likely their final-ever games to the infamous “boss button” for pretending you are working while watching games, March Madness truly is iconic.

It is March, it is madness and we love it. 

Reach Aaron Peck at or on Twitter @Aa_peck7.