March Madness Infects Student Body
Kyle Florence
kflor654@uwsp.edu

In the upcoming week, many students will likely spend their spring break in front of a television. For once, no one is complaining about it.

“No matter what year, there are always multiple great games that come down to the final minute or game-winning shots,” said business major Tyler Tillema, who is also a utility guard for men’s basketball team. “Every team plays like it is their last game, and location of the games can be a big deciding factor.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, aptly nicknamed March Madness, is comprised of 68 teams, each playing in a single elimination tournament to determine the best college basketball team in the country. Since its inception in 1800, the tournament’s popularity has only grown. As of 2011, all games were made available for viewing nationwide.

Not surprisingly, Tilema is not alone in his excitement. Evan Hooper, a business administration major, also looks forward to the upcoming tournament.

“I love March Madness because of the whole tournament aspect,” said Hooper. “It’s win big or go home. Plus, you’re always looking for the underdog to get that one big upset.”

One of the most notable aspects of “The Big Dance” is its constant unpredictability. Annually, multiple basketball juggernauts will fall to a considerably lesser-known opponent. This irregularity is both the plight and thrill of devoted viewers. To ensure that his picks are top-notch, Hooper has a strategy.

“I watch a lot of regular season play, but for the smaller teams that no one really knows about, I just ask my little 7-year old brother who he thinks will win. He’s been right the past couple of years, so I usually rely on him for the lower-playing games,” said Hooper.

Tillema goes for a more straightforward approach.

“Every year I seem to pick more upsets, but usually I just go on instincts,” Tillema said. “I try to stay away from rituals because every year and every team is different.”

Not everyone tunes in for the love of the game, however. Every March, millions of individuals from across the country fill out brackets in hopes of winning big in what some have called “the world’s largest office pool.” For senior Jack Hessel, these increased stakes are the best part of March Madness.

“Since I don’t really follow any college basketball during regular season, it allows me to have some moving interest in the games,” said Hessel. “When I have my own money on the line, I definitely pay a lot more attention.”

Hooper recognizes this added incentive as well.

“Some years I’ve been successful, and some years I haven’t, but hopefully this year I’ll be able to get some right and win some money,” Hooper said.

Regardless of motives, it would seem that all three individuals have varying views of who will win it all.

“Michigan is one of my favorite teams, and they’re in a pretty easy bracket. In fact, a lot of the Big Ten teams have a good chance, especially Indiana,” Hooper said. “I don’t like to admit it, but if I had to choose an upset team to win it, it would have to be Ohio State.”

Tillema also agrees that Indiana is a strong contender, as well as No. 2 ranked Duke.

“I believe that Indiana and Duke have all the pieces to make a big run in the NCAA because of their depth this year and their experience in the last few years,” said Tillema.

According to Hessel, Miami — also ranked No. 2— will be the team to watch in the upcoming weeks.

“They have size and talent, and what I mean by that is that they’re big guys who can shoot the rock from anywhere on the floor,” said Hessel. “I think that gives them a huge advantage.”

Play-in games to decide the No. 16 seeds began Tuesday, but the first round truly begins tonight, and continues until the championship game on April 8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.