The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Here’s What to Know When You Fill Out Your March Madness Bracket

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Four months ago, I penned an article marking the commencement of the 2023-2024 men’s college basketball season, specifically emphasizing the “anarchy” of it all. Well, beyond any other chaotic season, this one truly exceeded expectations. Before delving into the tournament, let’s take a look at two of the most notable storylines that led up to March. 

Unpredictable (albeit familiar) faces at the top: On October 16, 2023, the AP Top 25 preseason men’s college basking rankings read as the following: 1. Kansas 2. Duke 3. Purdue 4. Michigan State. As it stands, only one of these four teams, Purdue, is considered a legitimate contender. Duke and Kansas have suffered disappointing seasons, and each now holds a 4 seed in the tournament, while Michigan State barely (and controversially) made the tournament as a 9 seed. The current 1 seeds in the tournament, outside of Purdue, were not forecasted to have such dominant regular seasons. Connecticut, coming off of a national championship, was originally projected to finish third in the Big East. Houston, in their inaugural season in the Big 12, had plenty of doubters that they could match their recent excellence in the AAC in a much tougher conference. And the last 1 seed, North Carolina, didn’t even make the tournament last year but steamrolled the entire ACC during the regular season before falling to NC State in the ACC championship. 

An Unprecedented Amount of Bid Stealers: For those unfamiliar with the selection process, there is only one objective rule that the selection committee must adhere to If a team is eligible for postseason play and win their conference tournament, regardless of their regular season resume, they are guaranteed a bid to the NCAA tournament. During this past conference tournament week, numerous teams have embarked on their own Cinderella runs, snatching bids from teams hovering on the brink of the tournament, also known as “bubble teams.” To earn the label of a bid stealer, the conference champion must emerge from a conference that already has one or more at-large teams or teams that make the tournament based off of their regular season resume. So, conferences with less distinction, such as the Ivy or Patriot League, generally don’t produce bid stealers in the NCAA tournament. 

2024 Bid Stealers: UAB (AAC), Duquesne (Atlantic 10), NC State (ACC), and Oregon (Pac-12). 

Now, onto the bracket. The best advice anyone can receive regarding filling out their bracket is none. Even the biggest college basketball fan does not have any extra advantage in their bracket over someone who has never watched basketball before. Regardless of who ESPN, your friend, or AI tells you may win a given game, no one has the slightest of clues. So, if you want to pick 13th seed Vermont to make the Elite 8 because you have been skiing in Vermont before, do it, and do not let anyone convince you otherwise. Much crazier things have happened this year, so who knows? 

However, if you want to convince yourself that you are making educated decisions with your bracket, here are a few recent trends that could help you fill out the first perfect bracket ever: 

Since Florida’s back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007, no college basketball team has managed to repeat as champions: While UConn, currently the #1 overall seed, appears poised for success, it’s worth noting if you are contemplating the Huskies as your national champions. 

A 15 seed has made the Sweet Sixteen in each of the last three seasons (Oral Roberts 2021, Saint Peter’s 2022, Princeton 2023): Will this be the fourth consecutive year?

Since 2000, only once has the Final Four included three (out of four) 1 seeds: 1 seeds, in line with their ranking, have achieved more success than any other seeds in the tournament. However, be original, and pick some lower seeds to make a tournament run, because everyone loves a Cinderella story. 

At least one top-4 seed has been upset in the first round of the tournament in 14 of the last 15 years. So, find that team that you think will shock the world and trust your instincts. 

The next three weeks are among the greatest of times on the sports calendar, if not the greatest. Take the time to fill out a bracket even if it was news to you that the NCAA Tournament was this week because, once again, who knows? You may just fool around and fill out a top-notch bracket. 

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About the Contributor
Zach Marchick, Assistant Sports Editor
Zach is a sophomore from Washington D.C. majoring in Politics. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing basketball, baseball, tennis and cheering on D.C. sports teams.
Zach has written for the Sports section of the Bates Student for one year and the Sports section of his high school's newspaper for three years. He aspires to pursue a career in the sporting industry.

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