March Madness: a closer look at this cultural phenomenon
Every year during the middle of March, workplace productivity dramatically drops off in the United States. Indeed, sick days are used up, team calls are consistently moved around and lunch breaks are indefinitely prolonged. Why you may ask does this happen at the same time every year? The answer is simple: March Madness.
Yes, this basketball tournament grabs the attention of Americans like little else does and turns those who aren’t necessarily fans of the sport, into fanatical supporters who live and die by every three-pointer thrown for or against their adopted team.
In short, for three weeks every year, this event has a nation doing nothing else but consuming the steady flow of fixtures over the early part of spring. So, how does March Madness work and why does the narrative around the competition dominate all the latest sports news websites in the build-up?
March Madness is a single-elimination competition that involves 68 basketball teams from the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, otherwise known as NCAA. The objective for each team is simple; to do everything they can to get to the championship game.
These ambitions to be crowned national champions, however, can be over before they ever really begin as only 16 teams make it further than the first weekend. These 16 teams, known as the Sweet Sixteen, will then take part in their respective regional semi-finals.
Following that, the eight teams that make it successfully through these high-staked matches – dubbed the Elite Eight – will be tasked with having to win their specific regional finals to make it through to the last four of the nationwide tournament.
The remaining Final Four then compete in the official semi-final games where the eventual winners will get a chance to play in the national championship game.
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that this is a fixture that is the pinnacle of many players’ lives who don’t go on to make it professionally. After all, millions of people tune in to watch the finale of a tournament that the country has lived and breathed for three weeks.; it’s all on the line and often, this game produces jaw-dropping entertainment.
The Kansas Jayhawks were crowned the 2022 champions after they beat North Carolina in a game that will go down in March Madness folklore. Astonishingly, Kansas trailed North Carolina by as many as 15 points at the halftime interval yet came storming back in the second half to win a pulsating encounter 72-69. The enthralling ebb and flow of this particular championship game does give you a better idea of why the public puts their lives on hold when March Madness takes place.
YOUR KANSAS JAYHAWKS ARE THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 🏆
— Kansas Jayhawks (@KUAthletics) April 5, 2022
Historically speaking, the most successful college team of all time comes from the University of California, Los Angeles, with the Bruins having won the March Madness showdown 11 times.
What to expect in 2023 during March Madness?
The expectation in 2023 is much like it is for every other year with a carnival atmosphere predicted to sweep the US when March Madness begins with giveaways and office sweepstakes all on offer to mark the occasion. Notably, many promotions in the sports betting industry are also run during the playing of the tournament.
This time around, it’s expected that March Madness will coincide with the launch of online sportsbooks in Massachusetts. Bettors in the Bay State will finally have access to online MA sportsbooks and more visibility of the sports betting market in 2023, which could come into effect in the championship in March.
Looking back ⏪⏩ at UCLA's ninth consecutive win.
UCLA 67, Washington State 66#GoBruins 🏀 pic.twitter.com/BSZPdKt65z
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) January 1, 2023
Should this be the case and in the absence of the state’s team, UMass Minutemen not qualifying for the event, most of the bets will surely be placed on the two favorites, the Houston Cougars at odds of +650 and the Purdue Boilermakers at a price of +800.
Expect the unexpected
Although it’s always best to expect the unexpected when it comes to March Madness. As the name suggests, there is always a plot twist along the way which will take everyone by surprise. However, keeping on top of the madness that will inevitably unfold will be easy thanks to all the extensive coverage of the tournament, from podcasts to daily articles and regular TV segments dedicated to the event.
Yes, this is a competition like no other and is set once more to bring America to a grinding halt when 68 teams square up for the greatest prize in college basketball.