What is March Madness? A Beginner’s Guide

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“Ugh, my bracket is busted.” This is the common phrase usually heard by the majority of participants on the first day of the tournament. But what does it actually mean? It means that March Madness has begun, and we all have a vested interest.

The Players

According to NCAA.org, only 1.1% of men’s college basketball players, and 0.9% of women’s college basketball players turn major pro (NBA and WNBA). This means that 99% of undrafted prospects will play their hearts out to get a look from pro scouts. Everything is on the line, and this tournament will likely be the biggest games of their careers. For the seniors and “one and done” freshman, this is the last tour of games they will experience in the college atmosphere. In any walk of life, everyone wants to leave behind a great lasting legacy. For college athletes, the window is short. What they do on the court will be remembered forever and written in the history books. For this reason, they must maximize time and performance.

The Coaches

In many (American) circles, if you’re not coaching at the NBA level then college is the next best thing. There are dozens of Division-I schools looking for notoriety. What brings notoriety? Big name coaches and big name recruits. The number one thing that keeps those recruits coming is wins! This pushes the coaches to take their programs deep into the tournament each year. Each win brings more attention to the school. More attention leads to a bigger name. The bigger the name the better the chance at recruiting 5-star high school athletes. And the cycle just continues.

Each graduating class is special for these coaches as they usually treat them as their own children. They develop a sense of family. Seeing those kids move on is just like when parents see their children leave the nest; it’s bittersweet.

The Fans

Have you ever heard of the 6 degrees of separation? Well for this purpose let’s call it the 6 degrees of connection. The idea here is that chances are higher than an individual has ties to a specific school than an NBA team. They may be alum, or have family that are alum, and it could be as simple as that. Millions of students attend the colleges/universities across America each year. On the contrary, there are only 450 players on NBA rosters each year. Unless someone has deep rooted NBA ties from family or friends, it’s commonplace for them to not root for any team.

March brings out the utmost outpourings of school pride in the nation. Whether you choose to root for your alma mater, for team colors, or for mascots, it’s an experience. Not to mention the “friendly pools” we enter with our family, friends and co-workers to see whose bracket is best. The lump sums of change we have potential to win brings out excitement. Overall, it’s a time where those alike can bond and those unalike can trash talk. All in good fun. How long before your bracket is busted?

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