March madness hits home

Staff and students prepare for annual basketball tournament

The A-Blast bracket choices.

The A-Blast bracket choices.

Tyler Plank, Staff Writer

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March Madness has tipped off and there is action taking place everywhere. Millions of brackets have been filled out by viewers and everyone will be watching to see how the tournament plays.
In a 68 team tournament, there are over, 32 chances to make a mistake. The chances of having a perfect bracket are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. So it is anyone’s guess who will win it all.
UVA has been a make or break team in the past five seasons of the tournament, since many teachers are alumni and students are applying to the university, it makes UVA a favorite.
UVA has disappointed a lot, being ranked No.1 in their tournament division and not getting very far. In the 2018 tournament, UVA was ranked No.1 in their group and lost to the 16 seed, the University of Maryland Baltimore College. This epic loss was the first time ever a 16 seed beat a first-seeded team and resulted in thousands of busted brackets.
This year has come down to a judgment call as the Cavaliers have been in a dog fight for first place in the ACC (Atlantic Coastal Conference) all year with the Duke Blue Devils. Duke has also been high in the rankings all season, and they rarely disappoint in the tournament.
Duke is known for having successful tournaments. However, with the recent injury to stud freshman Zion Williamson, the Blue Devil’s game had a notable drop-off.
“When Zion Williamson went down it kinda changed everything and Duke fell off a little bit,” freshman Maxwell Lanham said.
The last time Duke won the National Championship was in 2015 against Wisconsin and they could very well do it again after knocking off UNC and Florida State in the ACC Championship tournament.
But then there’s Gonzaga who can dominate any team on the west coast. Gonzaga is a big-time basketball team and they are definitely ready for this year’s tournament. North Carolina has huge hopes as well since they won in 2017 and definitely show up to play every tournament. Both of these teams are favorites to win this year.
Another team is Tennessee, the greater SEC (Southern Eastern Conference) team in the NCAA. They have really brought up their basketball program in the past few years.
“I didn’t expect Tennessee to have such a good start,” Lanham said.
They have been up and down all season being ranked everywhere between 10 and 1. Another SEC dominance is Kentucky, but they have been questionable the past few years not really shining out or blending in. You either get a good team or mediocre team, but even when they’re mediocre they’re better than most.
Michigan, who really brought their basketball program up in recent years, has always fallen under Michigan State. MSU has always been the more dominant basketball team in Michigan.
Michigan has the team to do something good. Last year, they made to the finals and can easily make it to the Sweet 16 or higher.
Michigan State is doing quite fine, if they could really pull some levers and press some buttons, they have a good chance to get into the Final Four. However, based on the competition, Michigan State will probably end up in the Sweet 16 at best.
The biggest story so far for NCAA basketball this season was the ACC.
Every team has been very competitive and over half the teams have at least been ranked. Virginia Tech has never been as dominant in past seasons, but they definitely have had the spotlight on them a few times.
For most teams in the ACC, they would be ranked really high at points of the season but were knocked around by Duke, Virginia, etc.
Based on where these teams are placed they could control their region but they will have trouble with the bigger teams. Along with the Hokies; Syracuse, Louisville, and Florida State have all been strong forces inside the ACC.
The ACC has really been dominant, the former great Pac-12 (Pacific 12 Conference) only has one hope for a successful March Madness team: Wisconsin. Wisconsin had an okay season so far, but they have to work a little harder if they want to compete with the better teams in the tournament.
The Pac-12 used to be a huge force within the tournament, with teams like Oregon, Washington, and UCLA, they were the conference to beat. However, it is very quiet now and is not very competitive.
Unfortunately, Oregon’s star center, Bol Bol, was injured early on and Oregon has not been able to recover since.
This has built most of the intense competitive energy within the first few months of the season.
One of the many great things about doing the March Madness bracket is competing with friends, coworkers, and family. English teacher Bill Maglisceau puts together a bracket pool with other staff members every year.
Last year in 2018, there were up to 89 teacher participants in the pool. He started in 1998.
“The old athletic director, Olan Faulk, had asked me to do it,” Maglisceau said.
Some teachers have had some outstanding brackets.
“One year, Mr. [Joseph] Valentino had a near perfect bracket and another year Dr.[Michael] Mazzeralla came from behind and won. Those two are almost always in the mix” Maglisceau said.
Like most, Maglisceau plans on having Duke win it all.
In this tournament there are bound to be some fireworks, upsets, blow outs, nail biters and crazy finishes. In a tournament with 67 games every basketball play in the book will be implemented.