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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Crafting the perfect March Madness bracket

The Aggie explores multiple ways to put together a March Madness bracket

The end of Winter Quarter is now upon UC Davis, forcing students to bear down for the darkness that is finals week. Luckily, once finals are over, there are plenty of things that students can look forward to, like spring break. Taking a much-needed hiatus from their classes, students will have plenty of free time to watch one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year: the NCAA tournament. Since the spectacle began in 1939, underdog teams have been capturing the hearts of millions of fans while breaking the hearts of others.

Even if spectators aren’t lifelong fans of a certain team, the tournament is often still compelling, thanks to the popularity of the March Madness bracket. The majority of fans watching the games are increasingly more invested in the tournament because of the popular competition that is filling out a perfect bracket. Although the chances of predicting a flawless bracket are astronomically low, that doesn’t stop the well over 50 million Americans who partake in this activity each year.

Much of the appeal of this friendly competition is that, because the outcomes of games are so unpredictable, anyone can fill out a bracket and have a decent chance of putting up a great score. Whether you’re competing in a big group, playing against your family and friends or simply just filling out your own bracket online, there’s always plenty of fun and excitement to be had.

There are many ways to choose teams for a bracket, ranging from the simplest methods to the most complicated equations, to get the best score possible. For those that do not really follow basketball but still want to partake in March Madness, one of the simplest ways to choose can be anything from which team’s mascot is personally the most appealing, to staying loyal to the local teams in one’s area.

Apparently, there is a bit of predictability behind picking teams based off of their school colors or the color of their jerseys. It has been mathematically shown that teams with blue as their dominant color have historically won more March Madness championship than have schools with any other color. In fact, since 1939, 55 percent of the teams that have won the tournament have been a blue team. For those who are more into visuals and not so in touch with basketball, betting on blue is a safer bet.

In the same neighborhood as picking purely based on color is choosing victors based purely on the team’s mascot. Of course, you could go with the standard: which mascot do you like more? But if you’re trying to mix it up, you could select a favored mascot by who you think would win in a boxing match, who would be the better painter or something even more creative. No matter how random the prediction, there’s still not a proven method. So what’s there to lose?

Another interesting method is utilizing a website or an app to help determine which teams should be chosen. A math professor at Davidson College, Dr. Tim Chartier, used his years of experience crunching numbers to turn to basketball and use his skills to help create the perfect bracket. Dr. Chartier looks at everything from win streaks to recent performances in order to predict how successful a team will be in the tournament. But Dr. Chartier is not the one who does all of the work. His website allows specific users to be in charge of choosing their own rating method. The best part about the website? It’s completely free and perfect for college students who don’t have much time to watch college basketball during the school year to try out.

Finally, one of the simplest methods — which has somehow proven to be effective in choosing the winners of other sporting events — is to let an animal decide. If you’re one of the lucky students in Davis who gets to live with a pet, have them choose the winner! The ways to do this depend on the owner. Some have found success with narrowing down the animal’s options, printing out the logos of the teams and having their pets decide by seeing which logos they go up to, sniff or linger around. Others have tried to have their pets watch certain teams to see which team gets their little friend the most engaged. It is said that animals are the best judges of character, so put your pet to the test and see if they are the best judge of basketball talent as well.

Whatever your preferred method, March Madness is an easy, fun event to partake in with a hundred different options to pick the bracket that is best for you.

Written by: AJ Seymour — sports@theaggie.org


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