March’s Big Dance: A Month of Basketball Miracles and Devastation


Hannah Park

March Madness (Artwork/Hannah Park ’24)

Andrew Thallemer, Online Staff Writer

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, more commonly known as “March Madness,” is an annual single-elimination tournament composed of the best 64 teams in the country. There are four divisions of 16 teams, in which each team is seeded from one through sixteen. The tournament’s name “March Madness” is derived from the unexpected nature of each game; it is the only event where schools with small athletic programs have an opportunity to go against stronger, more well-known college basketball programs. Since each round is a single game, anything is possible, no matter the size or reputation of the school. 

It is every basketball fanatic’s dream to create a perfect bracket, or choose which teams will win in each round, but the unexpected nature of the tournament makes this virtually impossible. This year, over 20 million brackets were filled out by basketball fans, but by the second day of the tournament zero perfect brackets remained. The odds of filling out a perfect NCAA bracket are about 1 in 9.2 quintillion, according to the NCAA’s website.

This year’s tournament was truly like none other. All four No. 1 seeds this year (Kansas, Purdue, Alabama, and Houston) were eliminated before the Final Four (the last four teams remaining in the tournament). A No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed for only the second time in college basketball history. It only took one tournament game for more than 50% of all brackets to be proven incorrect, with eighth-seeded Maryland’s win over West Virginia, a No. 9 seed. Then, after 13th-seeded Furman upset fourth-seeded Virginia, only 10% of all brackets remained alive. By the time 15th-seeded Princeton won its game against the No. 2 seed Arizona Wildcats, no more than 0.12% of brackets remained. The biggest surprise in March Madness was from a relatively unknown school, Fairleigh Dickinson University, a school in New Jersey, which was able to upset a first seed, Purdue, in the first round. This officially eliminated all perfect brackets.

Seniors Farhan Mohammad and Nico Cucchi arranged Princeton Day School’s annual March Madness bracket pool. Students and faculty compete for a chance to have their name carved on the student-created March Madness trophy. Both seniors expressed their love of the game and the tournament, largely in part because each team has a chance to win the national championship. Every year, the bracket pool accepts anyone in the school who wishes to participate. Both seniors said that they “do not only care about who wins or loses,” but instead they value “the chance to get together with peers and socialize about the tournament.” 

In the tournament, some players may hang their heads low about being one of the 63 teams who didn’t win the championship, but others will cherish and treasure the opportunity of a lifetime which was given to them. The same outlook may also apply to the fanatics of the tournament. Freshman Danny Rozenblat has been a fan of college basketball ever since he can remember. He mentioned that he watches as much basketball as possible, because it is “extremely entertaining,” and because it’s “the favorite activity he does.” This year, the moment of the tournament he cherished the most was when Princeton’s basketball program was able to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, referring to the round where only sixteen teams remained. Rozenblat did not hang his head low when Princeton lost to 6th seed Creighton, but instead treasured the moments of greatness which Princeton had during the tournament. As Cucchi voiced, “What you truly should cherish in life is the journey, not simply how you arrive or end.” 

The National Championship game between San Diego State and University of Connecticut seemed somewhat anticlimactic after all of the excitement earlier in the tournament. University of Connecticut won with a final score of 76 to 59, making it the 5th NCAA tournament championship for the team.