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Bracketology

For those of you who don’t watch college basketball and don’t know a No. 1 seed from a seed in the ground, it’s a good idea to spend the next few weeks trying to isolate yourselves from American culture. Godspeed my friends, Godspeed.
[court] For everyone else, welcome to East Lansing during March Madness. Until the first week of April, audiences across the country and down the street will be in front of their TVs, switching from one tournament game to another, praying their picks will advance. Restaurants, offices and homes everywhere have been tuned in to watch the original 64 teams dwindle to a lone national champion. And don’t think we’re not betting on the results.
Of course part of the reason the nation becomes so captivated by March Madness is many of us have self-respect, pride and, well, money riding on it. Millions of offices, schools, families and friends fill out brackets, believing they have the ability to predict every step of the tournament. The upsets, the sleepers, the rivalries – they’re all a much-loved and virtually unforeseen part of the tournament. Who has enough confidence to instill in a No. 16 seed being victorious over a No. 1? Hardly anyone – it hasn’t happened in over 15 years. (But several do pick 12-seed-over-five-seed upsets – it’s happened 26 times since 1985.)
However, the rush of a predicted upset or a buzzer-beater three-point shot to win the game is a lot more exciting when your money – or worse yet, your pride – is on the line. “I think it makes the games a lot more exciting when you have something riding on it,” said integrated social sciences and health sciences sophomore Lauren Bogenberger. Bogenberger is participating in a bracket with MSU’s triathlon club. Bracket competitions come in all forms, ranging from between two roommates to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, which offers $10,000 to the top bracket in the nation.
[chances] “From a social perspective, it’s amusing to see people with their brackets ruined,” physiology senior Erika Templeton said. As an NCAA athlete herself, Templeton is not allowed to bet on the tournament, but is still an avid fan of the upsets. “Upsets are great because you get to see teams come together and achieve what no one else expected them to. It’s motivating and inspirational to me as an athlete.”
Although MSU’s men’s team has been dubbed a “sleeper” pick by ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, the student body is divided on how they will fare. “I think we will win,” education sophomore Dave Lessard said. “I love our university and expect them to give nothing less than their best in the tournament.”
Some are not as confident in the Spartans. A recent article in The State News warned students against putting MSU as a championship team in their brackets. “I love State as much as anyone else but it seems we can never get it together enough to win the big games,” mechanical engineering sophomore Lindsay Bockstiegel said.
MSU’s men entered the tournament with a 21-6 record, joining four other Big Ten squads in the tournament: Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. Illinois is seeded No. 1 in one of the four tournament regions, joining Washington, Duke and North Carolina as odds-on favorites.
MSU, a five-seed in the Austin region, faced No. 12 seed Old Dominion in the first round. Old Dominion finished 28-5 overall and ended up first in the Colonial Athletic Association conference. After a hard-fought game, the Spartans went 6-for-6 from the line to win 89-81. They beat No. 13 seed Vermont on Sunday 72-61, who stunned No. 4 Syracuse in an overtime 60-57 victory.
“March Madness is one of the best times of the year, because it’s so pure; it’s all about the game,” mechanical engineering sophomore Brandon Goad said. “I would love to see State win, but I think that Arizona is going to win it all.”
Although the bracketology craze has traditionally been about the men, the women’s tournament is becoming increasingly popular. MSU’s women’s team entered the tournament as Big Ten champs and a top seed, joining LSU, North Carolina and Tennessee. With a program-high record of 28-3, the Spartans also got their first No. 1 ranking in the team’s history. The Spartans proved their worth in the first round, defeating Alcorn State 73-41 and Southern California 61-59 in the second round. The women will face Vanderbilt in Kansas City this Sunday for their Sweet 16 game.
The NCAA championship game is on April 4, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis for the men, while the women play for the title April 5, at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
Sit down, have a beer and dig out your brackets from underneath that pizza box. Save your voice for the crazy referee calls and missed free throws, and call your friends at the University of Michigan to ask how it feels to peer in from the outside. March is a good month to be a Spartan basketball fan, and it’s Sweet 16 time in East Lansing.

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