Since 1939, the NCAA Tournament has created many memories for sports fans all across the country. Year in and year out, there are 68 Division One basketball teams selected to play in the tournament. 32 of the teams selected have an automatic bid into the tournament, meaning they won their conference championship. The other 36 teams in the tournament receive an at-large bid, meaning a committee picks remaining teams that did not win their conference championships to participate in the tournament. There are two games to kick off the tournament that are called play-in games which narrows the tournament down to 64 teams to play out in a bracket, ultimately leading to a National Champion.
There are basketball fans all over the nation, including some at Boys’ Latin. People in the Boys’ Latin community have different experiences, whether it be from attending an NCAA Tournament game or watching the games on TV.
Upper School Mathematics Teacher and Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach, Mr. Morrissey, had an interesting NCAA Tournament experience when he was a student at the University of Washington.
“In my sophomore year of college, my school was in the tournament. We were supposed to have an accounting exam at the exact same time the game tipped off,” said Morrissey. “My professor cancelled the exam and we watched the game on a projector in his room. The game ended up being really exciting and Washington won over Marquette on a late basket by Quincy Pondexter.”
Senior point guard for the varsity basketball team Cameron Watts thinks the amount of teams make the games so interesting.
“I think the atmosphere is greater due to how many teams there is and being able to watch so much great basketball,” said Watts.
There are four regions of teams ranked one through 16 that play until the ultimate goal of making the final four. Even though there are teams in the nation that are highly talked about like Duke or Kentucky, the NCAA Tournament always seems to deliver high intensity games every year, especially teams that are never talked about outside of the tournament. With the athletic ability that college athletes have today, most players can do everything, which makes games more interesting during the tournament. There is such a fine line between mid-major teams and power five conference teams, and upsets are always a possibility.
One of the biggest upsets in tournament history occurred in 2018 when the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), the lowest seed in the entire tournament, defeated the number one overall seed in the tournament and in the nation, University of Virginia. Leading up to this game, number one seeds were 135-0 vs number 16 seeds. UMBC was the first number 16 seed to defeat a number one seed in the history of the tournament. BL alum Zach Grace ‘17, who attends UMBC, was at the the game.
“I was at the UMBC vs Virginia game… my brother was on the team for the previous 4 years so we still knew people on the team. Also, the last time UMBC made the tournament was in 2008 so it might be awhile before it would happen again. The atmosphere was different from other playoffs,” said Grace.
The mid-spring tournament brings excitement to the sports world every year. No matter if the team is considered the worst in the tournament or the best, there are upsets every year, and brackets get busted. Although Virginia was part of the historic loss last year to UMBC, they were motivated coming into this year’s tournament. Their motivation boosted them to their ultimate goal of winning the National Championship, on Monday, April 8th, 2019 vs. Texas Tech.