The logo and bracket of March Madness, the second most popular collegiate event in the United states, only rivaling football. Photo courtesy of

The logo and bracket of March Madness, the second most popular collegiate event in the United states, only rivaling football. Photo courtesy of

           March: Women’s Month, St. Patrick’s Day, the first day of spring, and most importantly, March Madness. Unlike its professional counterpart, the National Basketball Association (NBA), whose playoffs occur in series, with March Madness, one bad game and the team is out of the bracket. This fact makes it one of the most thrilling events in sports. 

           The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sets up brackets for the Division One (D1) teams based on the conference standings and tournaments, with the East, West, South, and Midwest each having their own. The tournament initially consists of the most talented D1 teams, only 64 of over 350. 

           Men’s Bracket: First and Second Rounds

           Taking a look into this year’s contest for the men’s teams, the University of Houston, the University of Alabama, the University of Kansas, and Purdue University enter the competition as number one seeds, who  are typically the frontrunners to win the entire tournament. This year, none of them would make it past the elite eight.

           Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) rallied over Purdue, being just the second time in March Madness history a sixteenth seed has beaten a number one seed. Purdue had an astounding sixteen turnovers, which was matched with FDU’s 30.4% shooting from behind the arc. Tobin Anderson, FDU Head Coach, even admitted, “If we played [Purdue] 100 times, they’d probably beat us 99 times.” FDU would not make further history though as they lost to Florida Atlantic University in the second round.

           One of the biggest first round upsets  is the University of Virginia’s (fourth seed) loss to Furman University (thirteenth seed). In the last three seconds, Furman guard JP Pegues hit a clutch three pointer after a steal to secure Furman’s spot in the next round. Ironically, this loss is a recurring theme for the Cavaliers: March 16, the same day five years prior, Virginia lost in the first round as a number one seed, the only other occurrence of a sixteenth seed continuing during March Madness.

           Men’s Bracket: Sweet Sixteen

           Coming down to the sweet sixteen, Kansas State University (third seed) and Michigan State University (seventh seed) faced off in a game that was described as “a ‘Rocky’ fight” by Kansas State star guard Markquis Nowell. This intense match was the first during March Madness to go into overtime, and Kansas came out triumphant with an alley oop to take the overtime lead.

           The remaining number one seeds, the University of Alabama and the University of Houston, were taken down in games that were not even close, allowing San Diego State and the University of Miami to progress.

           Men’s Bracket: Elite Eight

           Full of upsets, the middle seeds continued to thrive in the elite eight.

           Despite Nowell’s 30 point effort and his double-double in the Kansas State-Florida Atlantic University (FAU) (ninth seed) game, Kansas State fell off of the bracket. Four of the FAU starters were in double figures by the end of the game, making the Owls the first number nine seed to earn a spot in the final four in the past decade.

           After beating Houston, Miami outscored the University of Texas 51-36 in the second half to produce a final score of 88-81, with Miami shooting a hefty 59.2% from the field to claim their final four place.

           Men’s Bracket: Final Four

           2023 has already been a unique year in terms of Men’s March Madness leading up to the final four. To add to this, only one team of the four, the University of Connecticut (UConn), has previously made it this far in the competition. The games would line up to be Florida Atlantic University (FAU) versus San Diego State and Miami versus UConn.

           The FAU-San Diego game went back and forth throughout the game. In the end, San Diego’s Lamont Butler got the final shot to fall with one second remaining, giving San Diego the lead at 72-71. 

           The other final four matchup was much less competitive; UConn took the early lead with a three pointer and did not allow Miami to ever take it. UConn had a field goal percentage of nearly 50%, while Miami’s was just 32.3%.

           Men’s Bracket: The Championship

           The moment fans wait for each year. Most brackets have been broken, and the few that remain anxiously anticipate a championship win for their team at the final buzzer of the second half. This year it will be San Diego State against UConn. In the first half, the teams exchanged baskets for a couple of minutes before UConn went on a 10-2 run to grasp the lead, and San Diego State would not get close to tying for the remainder of the game. The final score was 76-59 as UConn claimed their fifth championship title since 1999.

           Women’s Bracket: First and Second Rounds

           On the women’s side, the number one seeds are Indiana University Bloomington, the University of South Carolina, Stanford University, and Virginia Tech.

           Stanford and Indiana experienced upsets during the second round to Ole Miss and the University of Miami, and both games had less than a six point deficit. While Stanford never held the lead, Indiana-Miami constantly went back and forth to grasp the lead, with a massive shot in the paint by Miami’s Destiny Harden to snap the tie at three and a half seconds in the fourth quarter, making the score 70-68. 

           Virginia Tech on the contrary, powered their way through the first two rounds, victorious by 25 points over Chattanooga University, followed up by putting on a show for the crowd with a 12 point win against South Dakota State. In their South Dakota game, the Hokies never gave up the lead, with tip off beginning their initial 19-7 run.

           Women’s Bracket: Sweet Sixteen 

           The Virginia Tech Hokies continued to assert their dominance on the court to hold a spot in the elite eight, defeating Ohio State 84-74.

           Women’s Bracket: Elite Eight

           The women’s elite eight was full of impressive stats and performances all around. This is one of the particularly spectacular ones:

           Caitlin Clark, a junior and the face of the University of Iowa this year, had a spectacular game against the University of Louisville, dropping 41 points in addition to her triple double. The Hawkeyes proceeded to shut down the Cardinals 97-83.

           Women’s Bracket: Final Four

           Opposed to the men’s bracket, the women’s final four consists of all first, second, and third seeds, with Louisiana State University (LSU) versus Virginia Tech and the University of Iowa versus the University of South Carolina. 

           Clark struck again against South Carolina, accounting for another 41 points out of the Hawkeye’s 77 to overcome the number one seed. Iowa beat South Carolina by a nail biting four points during the back and forth game. 

           Virginia Tech’s playoff run ended with a loss to LSU. The Hokies had 18 turnovers and were outscored 13-29 in the fourth quarter, securing LSU’s win. Forward Angel Reese also achieved a double double in the final four victory.

           Women’s Bracket: Championship

           Much like the men’s side, the women would see no number one seeds, being LSU versus Iowa. The championship game was revolutionary; the final score broke triple digits for LSU, 102-85, uncommonly seen in collegiate games. This is also the most viewed women’s collegiate game at 9.9 million views To compare, the National Women’s Basketball Association averages less than a million views per game. In the showdown, Clark’s 30 points were nowhere close to taking down LSU, who had five players in double figures, with Reese having another double-double.

           Congratulations to all of the teams that qualified to compete in March Madness, and especially to UConn and LSU for achieving the astounding title of 2023 champions!