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Words: Jason Wolf
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

How a college basketball tournament became an office phenomenon.

While some people are buzzing with Spring Fever, others have descended into March Madness, the NCAA’s annual national college basketball tournament which culminates the first weekend of April. But why the frenzy over a college sport that remains pretty much anonymous the year round and what exactly is the “bracket”?

In laymen’s terms, on “Selection Sunday,” the Sunday before the contest starts in mid-March, 68 college basketball teams are selected to participate in the tournament. There are 32 teams automatically entered due to winning their regional conference championships, whereas a selection committee decides the remaining, feeder-fish teams. Fans then predict the winners of each single-elimination round using brackets, which, after three weeks, all leads to a single, national champion of college basketball.

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Despite collegiate sports mostly being doomed to obscurity, March Madness seemingly gets more attention than even the NBA Finals. But how do so many everyday people claim knowledge over college teams with biennial roster turnovers, and is it worth it to get invested? Here are five reasons for the March Madness phenomenon.


Like fantasy football leagues, filling out a bracket and getting involved in an office pool is a simple way to mingle with your friends or co-workers. Break the ice with new co-workers, plan meet ups at local bars to share drinks over the games, bond over coming up with goofy bracket team names like Final Fourgasm or Full Metal Bracket, or even watch match-ups on company time if your boss is vested in it as well. Plus, if this inadvertently gets you lured into conversations with your least favorite co-worker, the bonus is that it’ll only be a few weeks until the contest is over and you can go back to avoiding eye contact in the halls.


Although you’ll want to do some homework on college basketball programs, submitting a bracket to a competitive pool could be a route to winning some money. Since it’s absurd to think that a casual fan could possibly know enough about college basketball, use online resources to make educated guesses before slapping down some money. Seek out tournament pots with big returns if you’re a gambling thrill-seeker, but you can just throw in a few bucks in the office pool for some harmless fun too.


Quite simply, if you’re a basketball fan then this is the opportune time to inundate yourself with a barrage of high-stakes basketball games. Immerse yourself in dozens of games crammed into three weeks, let the lively college crowds amp up the atmosphere, enjoy the amateur gameplay that displays more grit and hustle than at the professional level. Plus, even though a minuscule amount of college athletes ultimately go pro, but you can use your basketball prowess to test your scouting eye and see if you can spot the next NBA star.

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Single-elimination showdowns, buzzer-beating shots, athletes in it for the passion instead of the money, March Madness offers true sports fans a unique flavor of theater.  It condenses playoff intensity, underdog stories, dramatic upsets, into a sweeping series of games that helps add appeal to a wider audience. While some find beauty in the heart and tenacity of student athletes, others can enjoy the melodrama that drips from every do-or-die game. This make for fun, electrifying, and sentimental storylines that any sports fan can get behind


Extemporaneously select winners with no prior attention paid to college basketball to see if you’ve been gifted with fortune-telling abilities. Like video gamers who randomly mash buttons on the controller yet somehow beat skilled players, be the envy of your office by winning the whole pot of money after arbitrarily selecting March Madness winners based off your favorite team color or throwing a pencil at a bracket. See, even sardonic contrarians can enjoy March Madness.

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