There is a very good reason why it is called March Madness
The NBA is the promised land for millions of basketball hopefuls across the US and the world. Only a select few ever make it to the big league and go on to become household names.
But there is an argument that college hoops are the more exciting – and definitely has a more eagerly anticipated postseason. Everything stops when March Madness comes around every year. All eyes are on this unique tournament, and NCAA basketball has its moment in the sun. But why is March Madness so popular?
So Many Games
There are, of course, hundreds of games running up to the main tournament. But even when March Madness begins, there are still 68 teams competing. In the second and third rounds, there are an incredible 48 games played over the course of just four days. Never has a tournament been so aptly named.
The games obviously come thick and fast, meaning that basketball fans can watch back-to-back games throughout the tournament. You might well have your college hoops favorites, but you can watch teams from all over the country play in match-ups that happen nowhere else outside March Madness.
Filling in Those Brackets
For many, the best part of March Madness is over before a single game is played. Filling in a tournament bracket can be one of the most frustrating and/or important parts of the sports calendar. With 68 teams cut down to the two playing the championship game, there are a lot of predictions to be made.
This is the time when even your favorite team being knocked out doesn’t matter quite as much because you still have your picks to fall back on. There is money to be made from these brackets. But even if you are just doing them for fun, it is something that keeps you involved for longer.
Everyone loves an underdog – unless you play or support a favorite that has just been beaten! There have been some very famous Cinderella teams at March Madness over the years, and even if there isn’t a huge upset, every year throws up a few surprise scores.
Villanova winning the championship as an 8th seed can be counted as a Cinderella story – as an 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago making it to the Final Four in 2018. The 2022 edition gave us 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s beating Kentucky and Purdue on the way to the Elite Eight.
Figure 2 College hoops produce stories that the NBA just cannot
One and Done
One of the reasons why upsets are so common at March Madness – and a real factor in the popularity of the tournament as a whole – is the format. Unlike postseason playoffs in other sports, March Madness is a single-game elimination affair. That means you could end up with a ‘one and done.
For anyone unfamiliar with the terminology, one and done refers to the possibility of playing one game, losing, and then being done in the tournament. The added pressure that puts on the teams and players, especially the bigger teams, makes for some truly nail-biting games.
Time of Year
It is unfair to say that March Madness is popular only because there is very little importance going on at that time of year in the world of sports. But it does add something extra to the excitement. NBA trade deadlines and NFL free agency can’t really compete.
The Super Bowl has come and gone, and the NHL and NBA playoffs are still a little way off. Major League Baseball’s season hasn’t even started. March Madness could happen at any other time of year and still be one of the best sports events of the year. But when it gets the sports shows all to itself, it just makes it even better somehow.