There’s nothing quite like March Madness in the world of sports. Just about everyone fills out a bracket for one reason or another, no matter how much or how little one knows about the teams involved. This year there will be seemingly no advantage knowing about the sport when the brackets start getting filled out. Why? Because of the parity of the sport this season. Every week, several top teams in the rankings are falling to supposedly lesser teams.
This season, five different teams dubbed number one in the country have gone down. In the week of Jan. 24, seven of the top eight teams in the rankings lost. Teams ranked in the top five lost 23 different times through the first 12 weeks of the season. Perennial contender Duke lost to three straight unranked opponents and fell out of the top 25 for the first time in eight years. Shortly after falling out of the rankings, Duke went into Chapel Hill and took down 5th-ranked North Carolina. Duke has since climbed back into the top 25 and is still being talked about as a contender.
All of this begs the question: what’s better for the sport? One team that everyone knows is supposed to win it all, or a wide open field where any team has a shot?
Conversely, last year the University of Kentucky constructed a super team, including four players that went on to be lottery picks in the 2015 NBA Draft. Their goal right from the start was perfection, and during the regular season they reached it, entering the NCAA tournament at a spotless 34-0. Brackets upon brackets were filled out with Kentucky winning it all as the obvious choice. Several people, though, picked against the Wildcats, hoping to see a David vs Goliath type of upset. No matter the situation, the point was clear: Kentucky was supposed to win. Ultimately Kentucky was taken down in the Final Four by the University of Wisconsin.
This type of situation is better for college basketball because it draws in the casual viewer. Even someone who doesn’t know much about the sport knew who the favorite was. Everyone tuned in to either witness history in an undefeated national champion or see a monumental upset. This year the brackets will be more diverse but there will probably be fewer people closely watching the tournament. On the other hand, as a diehard March Madness fan, I can’t wait for this year’s tournament, as there’s a possibility for even more madness than usual.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.