Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

March Madness – Why Brits should give it a shot

Posted on 21 March 2019 by Thomas Kaiser

In football, the international break is ongoing, which let’s be honest is a bore fest. Instead, why not turn your attention to March Madness – a tournament between 64 American college basketball teams. The rules are simple, you lose, you’re out, but if you win seven games on the bounce, you’re the national champion! 

The tournament is broken down into four regions, the East, the South, the Midwest, and the West. In each region, 16 teams are ranked from the first to the sixteenth seed. The winner of each region makes it to the Final Four in Minneapolis, where a crowd of no less than 70,000 people is expected for each game.  

The winner of the East will play the winner of the West, and the winner of the South will play the winner of the Midwest and the remaining two teams will face-off on April 8th, in the National Championship game. 

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At this point, you may ask yourself, why would I want to watch university sports, as opposed to professional sports? In American sports, most players attended university before being drafted by professional organizations. 

In brief, the level of talent in college basketball is outstanding because these players are future stars of the NBA (National Basketball Association). For example, Michael Jordan attended the University of North Carolina, Kevin Durant played for Texas A&M and Anthony Davis represented Kentucky. 

This year, all eyes will be on Duke’s, Zion Williamson, a man that has already been compared to Lebron James because of his freakishly athletic body. Williamson weighs in at 129 kg (285 lbs) and stands at 2.01m (6ft7) – he is currently a man against boys in college basketball.  

But, Williamson is not the only exciting prospect, his teammates Cam Reddish and RJ. Barrett are also looking to make some noise this March, while other players such as Ja Morant (Murray St.), DeAndre Hunter (Virginia), and Coby White (UNC) will also try and prove to NBA scouts that they are the next big thing. 

Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter was injured last year and could not participate in the tournament. His team Virginia, was the number one overall seed, and for the first time in March Madness history, a number one seed lost to a sixteen seed (UMBC). Up until this game, the number one seeds had won 135 of 135 games against a number sixteen seed.

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Virginia is once again seeded as a number one seed this year, so all eyes will be fixed on them in the first round, to see if they will repeat their catastrophic result from last season.

But Virginia isn’t the only team that needs to worry about an upset, because upsets are constant in the tournament every year.

In fact, one of the March Madness traditions is to complete a bracket. That means trying to predict 63 games correctly, a task that has never been accomplished. Actually, a professor at Duke University, said that the odds of predicting a perfect bracket are “1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (that’s 9.2 quintillion)”.It’s too late to fill out a full bracket, but you can still fill out brackets at the end of each round.

Watch Virginia play Friday March 21st, at 7:10 pm, and Zion Williamson at 11:10pm.

Featured image/ Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels