March Madness tips off Friday

Harrison Simon, Sports Editor

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, one of the first major sporting events to succumb to the virus was the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, commonly referred to as “March Madness.” Fans were devastated to not be able to watch their favorite teams battle for the championship, and many were crushed to not be able to see how their tournament bracket predictions fared. Although it will be a tournament unlike any other, there will be a March Madness this year, and it all starts today.

March Madness is one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year. The tournament pits 68 of the nation’s best teams against each other in a single-elimination bracket until there is only one team left standing. Normally, each of the tournament’s four regions is held in a different city with the Final Four being held in a predetermined location. This year, however, all games will be played in Indiana.

The top overall seed this year is the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Hailing from the West Coast Conference, the Zags have long been a dominant team, especially given their weaker conference opponents. Despite immense success in the regular season and conference tournaments, the Bulldogs tend to fall short during March Madness. They look to have a different ending this year. Three of the team’s five starters were named to either the first or second All-America teams, one of the NCAA’s most prestigious honors. 

The Bulldogs enter March Madness undefeated, as they look to be only the fifth ever school to win the national championship with an unblemished record — Indiana, UNC and University of San Francisco have done so once before, while UCLA achieved the feat four times in a span of ten seasons.

If Gonzaga wants to cut the nets down on April 5, there’s a good chance they will have to take down the Baylor Bears. Baylor, the No. 1 seed in the South region, has dominated teams all season long. The Bears are 22-2 on the season, with both losses coming to teams ranked in the top 20 nationally. Led by senior guard Macio Teague and junior guard Jared Butler, the Bears are seeking their first ever national title.

There’s plenty of other teams that have a legitimate shot at winning it all this year, but listing them all might take just a bit too long. The First Four starts today, and the first round officially starts on Friday, March 19, so make sure to fill out your brackets before then.

And just a friendly reminder, the odds of picking a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Good luck!