The best sports has to offer: The NCAA Tournament

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Carolyn Patterson

Chris Hofstadter, Staff Writer

March brings a lot to Blake students. Spring sports start up, spring break arrives, classes ramp up, and March Madness begins. “There is literally nothing more important than this basketball tournament,” remarks Tom Mahoney ’14, and he couldn’t have said it better.

Every year for the last two weeks of March college basketball takes center stage in the sporting world. 68 schools vie for college basketball’s ultimate prize, the NCAA championship. In this single elimination format one loss means you are out, so upsets are abound. Unlike the NBA in which teams must win four out of seven games to advance, the NCAA’s single elimination format allows for small schools to make Cinderella runs at the title. This format allows for schools like Western Kentucky and Santa Clara to compete with the likes of Duke and Indiana. The unpredictable nature of the tournament spawns a popular competition to see who can make the best bracket.

An industry in itself, filling out a bracket is one of the most popular betting and fantasy games in the United States. Corporations like Yahoo and ESPN offer prizes exceeding one million dollars for those who fill out a perfect bracket. Your odds aren’t very good to fill out a perfect one though; one in 147,573,952,589,676,412,928. To put that in perspective, you have better odds that a meteor will land in your house, twice. The abundance of upsets means that just because you have the best bracket doesn’t mean you have the most basketball knowledge. The best bracket of all three million entries to Yahoo’s competition came from an Oregon librarian who chose her picks based on team’s mascots and “what [her] cat thought.”
The only thing more surprising than the odds of picking a perfect bracket is how much money is involved in the tournament. Because much of the NCAA tournament happens during the work day, it costs U.S industries an estimated $220 million dollars in lost productivity because people are watching the games at work. CBS pays the NCAA 10.8 billion dollars, yes billion not million, for the rights to the NCAA tournament. A 30 second ad during the tournament costs 1.2 million dollars, or three times more than a World Series ad. The NCAA tournament alone makes up 80% of the NCAA’s revenue in any given year.
The NCAA tournament rivals the Super Bowl in popularity. It is arguably the biggest sporting event in America. It is the most glorious two weeks of the year. There is truly nothing like it in any other country or in any other sport. Luckily for Blake teachers, the tournament is entirely during spring break, but that means many students will have to chose between the beach or sport’s most exciting event.