The Return of March Madness

Steven Moore, Sports Statistician

March is every college basketball fan’s favorite time of the year. This year has a special meaning to most because it was very long awaited. With COVID-19 striking hard last year around the beginning of March, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cancelled all conference tournaments that still needed to be played, which ultimately led to the NCAA tournaments being cancelled as well. This year, special protocols are put into action to keep all players and coaches safe while still being able to compete. The NCAA has decided to go with the idea of a bubble format, which basically means that all players and coaches on every team remaining in the tournament must stay confined in the bubble. This consists of people in their hotel or at a respected arena the team will be playing at. This ultimately creates a safer environment and limits the chances of players getting the virus. So far, only eight positive COVID results have occurred in the sixty-four team testing, which shows positive signs for stingy protocols being the way to go to ensure safety for all

Every year around this time, everyone is filling out a bracket. Whether you are a college basketball fan or not, making a bracket can make the tournament very exciting and it creates high anticipation for certain games. There is a lot of hype around the one seeds in the tournament this year, more so than years in the past. The Gonzaga Bulldogs out of Spokane, Wash., is the team to beat this year. With a 26-0 record this year, I am taking Gonzaga all the way. I do not see anyone stopping this powerhouse led by guard Jalen Suggs and forwards Drew Timme and Corey Kispert, who have all had incredible seasons. They would become the first team since 1955 to win the NCAA tournament with an undefeated season, and only the second team ever to do so. Baylor, Illinois, and Michigan also have received one-seeds in the tournament. Baylor has a solid point guard program with Jared Butler, Daivion Mitchell and MaCio Teague who are all elite scorers and they are a force to be reckoned with in the South. Likewise, Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu is arguably the best player in college basketball and Kofi Cockburn is a menace in the paint. The odd team out here is Michigan. Michigan has a great team this year, but they are missing their best scorer in Isaiah Livers who is out the first couple games with a foot injury. 

March Madness is bound to have upsets, and brackets are so unpredictable every year. With COVID situations and traveling delays, some powerhouse programs, such as Virginia and Kansas, are negatively affected. There are so many great teams in this tournament, and it will be exciting to see how the games turn out.