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Karim Melek
Karim Melek
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Karim is a sophomore at Palatine High School and along with being the News editor at Cutlass, Melek is involved in many activities such as Water Polo, Debate, and Model UN. Melek enjoys traveling and was...

March Madness: What to expect, how to participate, and my pick to win it all

By National Collegiate Athletic Association Wikipedia Commons

To the delight of basketball fans across the nation, March has begun, and with it comes anticipation for the biggest college basketball tournament in the nation, March Madness. This month holds the promise of electric performances, heated rivalries, and bold predictions of upsets by the most unlikely teams imaginable. But even if you aren’t a fan of college basketball, you can still get in on the action this month!

For The Non-Basketball Enjoyer:

March Madness is a National College Athletics Association tournament. It’s a basketball tournament with a single-elimination format. 68 teams compete in seven rounds for the national championship. The penultimate round is known as the Final Four, when (you guessed it) only four teams are left. Eventually, one team emerges victorious. 

The most popular of March Madness festivities is to create a bracket, where you predict the winner of every game up to the final matchup, where you predict who is going to “Win it All.” This is very fun to do with a group of friends, competing to see who has the most accurate bracket when it’s all said and done. At the time this article is being written, the NCAA hasn’t released the matchups yet, but if you’d like to see past results to get an idea of what it looks like, check out the 2023 official bracket and results. Once they do give us the matchups, there should be plenty of online bracket makers available with a quick google search, but you can always just draw it out yourself! It makes for a good piece of memorabilia anyway.

If you’d like some bracket advice, currently UConn is the favorite to win it all, so they are a safe team to ride with. If you’d like a secondary option, Purdue has Zach Edey, the best player in the country, making them the third most favored team, and I think they are also a very good pick. Wanna get crazy? Bleacher Report, my personal favorite sports news source, considers Arizona a bold but well educated pick to go all the way. Good Luck!

For The College Basketball Fan:

 This year’s iteration of March Madness is currently set to be an entertaining one at the very least. UConn is favored, but not by much. North Carolina has emerged as a dark house contender lately, and I’m tempted to agree with the general consensus. They have been hot to end the season, and considering the program’s past successes, it’s hard to think that they won’t carry this momentum over to the postseason. On the other hand, Houston is hard to dislike. They are currently seeded first in CBS’s power rankings, and it’s no mystery why, as they’ve been very consistent this season against a variety of opponents. 

If you want a more adventurous option, Kansas is a strong selection as well. They are led by 7’ 2” center Hunter Dickinson, who boasts relatively high efficiency from beyond the three point stripe, shooting 34% from downtown. Kansas uses a scheme that prioritizes spacing, which has been proven to work well in this tournament in the past couple years where the ‘Pace and Space’ offense has become very prevalent. The difference with Kansas is that they don’t need to play small-ball to pull off a five out offense, and can instead retain traditional size and physically at all 5 positions, making them difficult to game plan against in a single elimination tournament. With that being said, if you are a casual fan, go make your bracket! Best of luck.

For the hardcore college hoops fan, let’s keep it simple. UConn looks scary right now. Purdue and Houston have more commanding star power, but since when has that mattered? This isn’t the NBA after all. The Tar Heels look good as of late, but it’s a relatively inexperienced team, so who’s telling how they will perform. The point is, as seasoned, grizzled College Basketball fans, we know deep down this tournament is impossible to predict. Does anybody know anybody who knows anybody who knows anybody that has ever made a perfect bracket? Didn’t think so. In truth, it’s probably a better bet to pick your local community college to win it all. But if your local community college isn’t in the tournament, why not pick a 16 seed that you like? If they make a run, you’ll be a legend among your basketball friends for years. Think of the amount of times you’ll be able to tell your friends they don’t know ball, and that Harper College was the clear favorite from the beginning. 

My Pick To Win It All:

In spite of my Illinois pride, Purdue is my pick to win it all. I think Zach Edey will cement himself as one of the most statistically dominant college basketball players ever, go down as Purdue’s greatest player of all time, become a state of Indiana legend, and damn near guarantee himself the spot of the number one overall pick in next year’s NBA draft. Purdue will likely go down as the villain of this tournament for the nation overall, but it’ll be born from a place of despair and regret for not believing in them sooner.

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