Basketball teams fight for national title in March Madness tournament

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Baylor University point guard, Jared Butler, celebrates after winning the NCAA basketball championship.

Be ready to throw out your tournament brackets because March Madness has arrived! March Madness is a college basketball tournament that pits 68 of the best Division I teams against each other in a single elimination style, which means with a single loss the team will be out of the tournament. This is how the tournament got its name, and because of these rules, it makes it possible for many upsets to occur and creates “madness” at the end of close games.

March Madness began in 1939 with the Oregon Ducks taking home the first national title. The tournament has taken place annually for decades, and is a staple for basketball fans every spring. Before the games begin, there is a tradition of filling out a bracket to predict the results. The problem is that it’s near impossible to make a perfect bracket. There is a one in 9.2 quintillion chance of filling out a perfect one. The closest a person ever made it to a perfect bracket was in 2019 when someone predicted the first 49 games correctly. 

This year’s tournament has been affected by COVID-19, just like everything else in the world. The tournament was held in a bubble similar to the 2020 NBA playoffs. This means that all participants stayed in quarantine until their run was over. Compared to the NBA’s 131 cases throughout their season, the NCAA had only eight positive tests out of thousands during theirs, proving the bubble system to be highly effective.

The favorite of this year’s tournament was Gonzaga out of Washington state as they were undefeated in the season, but there are rarely ever clear favorites as upsets happen frequently. Two teams that surprisingly did not make it to the tournament were Duke and Kentucky. They are staples of March Madness and usually have teams with big name players who are top picks for the NBA. 

One upset in the 2021 March Madness tournament was the eighth seed Loyola beating the number one seed Illinois. Another big upset happened in the Elite Eight with the no. 11 seed UCLA defeating the second seed Alabama.

Students in Columbia Heights were a part of the March Madness hype this year.

“I really hope Gonzaga will make it all the way this year,” Jesus Romero (12) said. “My favorite player in the tournament is Jalen Suggs because he is from Minnesota.”

The final game of the tournament was between the Texas school Baylor University and Gonzaga, with Baylor taking the victory. The game was not close at all and Baylor kept their lead throughout. Junior guard Jared Butler won the most outstanding player award for his performance in the championship game. He finished with 22 points and seven assists to lead his team to the win.

Overall, the tournament was filled with as many exciting plays and surprising moments as any other year. The NCAA did a great job of maintaining the safety and atmosphere of the most unpredictable tournament of the year.