The Brackets of March
Right now is the maddest time of the year. This is not because of the mounting stress which comes with the approaching end of the school year.
The 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is underway. 68 teams from 32 conferences will battle in a single elimination tournament, leaving one champion of college basketball.
Though sadly the Pacific Tigers are not in this year’s big dance, thousands of Pacific students, as well as millions of people across the country, are filling out their own brackets in the ultimate sports challenge. The quest: Correctly predict each game through each round of the tournament. The reward: Eternal glory, and possibly, quite a lot of money.
If you don’t know someone who’s filled out a bracket, you are an anomaly. A record 11.01 million people filled out brackets in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, a 35.1 percent increase from last year. Millions more took part in similar challenges from Yahoo!, CBS Sports and FOX Sports.
This year, billionaire Warren Buffet created the “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge,” a contest which pays anyone who correctly picks a perfect bracket (a one in 9.2 quintillion chance, according to the game’s website) $1 billion.
With several double-digit seeds upsetting some of the top teams, there are no perfect brackets anywhere in the world. Maybe next year someone will win the billion.
It is not just fans getting in on the action. Advertisers, such as Allstate and Buffalo Wild Wings, are cashing in on the bracket-themed commercialization. Companies, groups and organizations as far-reaching as the NFL, Green Day and Union Pacific Railroad are promoting their owned March Madness-themed tournaments on television, as well was through Facebook and their own websites.
There is no way of escaping them. The brackets, busted by Dayton, Mercer and Stanford, are everywhere.