As millions of college basketball fans fill out their 68-team bracket every year, many hope to create that elusive and highly improbable “perfect” bracket for March Madness.
March Madness serves as the only time in the year in which for three weeks fans are sitting on the edge of their couches, biting their nails and having their hearts beating at rates beyond normal, praying that their teams advance to the next round. Unlike other sporting events such as the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl, March truly does bring out the madness and the unpredictability that comes with it.
Just last year alone, many college fans were able to witness tournament history, as the UMBC Retrievers became the first 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed (Virginia), where No. 1 seeds held a 135-0 record over 16-seed teams.
Think about it, avid sports fans and sports pundits alike continue to criticize the NBA for its lack of parity, because nobody in their right mind (unless you’re a Golden State Warriors fan) wants to see the same outcome every year. With the current trajectory that the NBA has been on for about five years now, the Warriors are undoubtedly odds-on favorites to claim their third Larry O’ Brien trophy in a row and their fourth in five seasons.
In college basketball, the 2006-07 Florida Gators are the only team in recent memory to win back-to- back Division I national titles and are only one of seven schools since the 1939 merger complete this task according to NCAA.com
According to SportsMediaWatch.com, the 2018 NBA Finals only pulled in 17.7 million viewers on ABC, which was a 14 percent decrease in viewership from the 2017 NBA Finals series (20.4 million viewers).
Also, fans don’t want to see a renewed narrative every season, featuring an aging 41 –year quarterback in Tom Brady dragging a below-average New England Patriots team to a Super Bowl almost every other year.
According to a CNBC article by Lucy Handley, Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams pulled in only 98.2 million viewers, its lowest count for a Super Bowl since 2008 (97.5 million), which featured the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.
Also, this decline in viewership for the Super Bowl has happened for the fourth consecutive year, (three of which featured Tom Brady) were 103.5 million viewers tuned in 2018, down from 111.3 million in 2017 and 111.9 million in 2016 and ultimately reached its peak in 2015, with 114.4 million viewers.
Another reason that March Madness stands in a class of its own is because of the 97 million viewers it totaled last year, but the moments it has given us as fans. For example, in last year’s March Madness tournament, college basketball fans across the world fell in love with Sister Jean and the 11–seed Loyola Chicago Ramblers and their magical run to the Final Four. In 2013, we got to watch 15- seed Florida Gulf Coast University dance to the Sweet 16 and adopt the moniker “Dunk City” because of their above the rim style of play and dunks.
Lastly, how could anybody forget about the 10-seed Davidson Wildcats’ run to the Elite Eight in 2008, which featured now NBA star Stephen Curry, who averaged 34.3 points, 3.7 assists and 4.0 steals while shooting 50.8 percent from the field during this three-game stretch?