March Madness: Why the hype?

Competitive bracket building is a staple of the March Madness festivities. Students throughout Leesville made brackets of their own as soon as the chance arose. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Polansky)

It’s the month of March, and here in North Carolina, everyone knows what that means: March Madness. This collegiate basketball sensation is one of the most highly anticipated athletic events of the winter sports season–perhaps even the year. Featuring viewing parties, heated fan rivalries, and an intense bracket building competition, March Madness is a truly unique experience with incredible fan involvement.

Fans–especially those in North Carolina–go absolutely crazy for March Madness, but what is the cause for this seasonal obsession? To those who don’t participate, this annual ritual of college basketball fanaticism may seem a bit odd, and requires a bit of explanation.

“North Carolina has three major ACC schools within 30 or 40 miles of each other, and because of this, they’re obsessed with basketball,” said Monica Wilkerson, an English teacher at Leesville Road High. “Basketball is what they know, what they live, and what they breathe. When Carolina loses a games, my husband barely talks for 24 hours–there are many people who are, unfortunately, that extreme.”

Throughout North Carolina, college basketball is a household staple. Allegiances run deep, and there’s nothing fans love more than seeing their allegiances pay off–thats why March Madness has so much hype.

“Everyone loves to see the passion and hard work the players put into each game–the whole season builds up to March Madness and everyone loves to see it come together,” said Diego Pardo, a Leesville freshman.

However, basketball players are not the only ones competing during March Madness. Rivalries are only inflamed by an entirely different form of competition: bracket building. Fans create prediction-based brackets to compare and bet against others. The result: a fierce contest for the highest percentage prediction accuracy.

“Everyone wants to get that perfect bracket, but no one ever gets it,” said Matthew Stewart, a sophomore at Leesville. “It’s all about the busts and upsets that people don’t expect–it makes ‘em mad, but it’s a lot of fun.”

March Madness is in full swing and has already been full of upsets, comeback victories, and numerous surprises. These elite teams have been narrowed down to the best of the best–only the final four remain. In the coming week, Villanova, Loyola Chicago, Michigan and Kansas will battle it out for the number one spot in the nation. While the victor is yet to be determined, you can be sure that the loyal March Madness fans will be following it every step of the way.

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