We are now officially in the greatest month of the sporting world. Apologies if you have a birthday or anniversary in one of the other inferior months, but none shall top the third month of the year. Though the actual NCAA tournament only occupies half of March, there’s still plenty to look forward to–the end of the regular season, conference tournaments, and Selection Sunday.

According to an article from Slate.com, the phrase “March Madness” was coined by Henry V. Porter of the Illinois High School Association in 1939, and didn’t reach the national stage until legendary former announcer Brent Musburger used the term in 1982 during one of his tournament broadcasts. But why “Madness”? We know that college basketball is full of surprises, but let’s take a look at all the elements that consistently make this month one to remember.

Games on games on games

Though college basketball does not hold sole rights to a plethora of games on the postseason schedule (see any sport with a seven game playoff series), there’s nothing quite like the first few weekends in March. How are people supposed to pay attention in school or at their job when games are being played across the country from the hours of 11 A.M. to 11. P.M.? Though we condone academics and work ethic at Madison, the temptation to sneak some peaks at the March Madness app may be too great to overcome, and that is quite alright. It is my dream that one day the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA tournament will be a holiday. Some day…

Single elimination

To preface this, I thoroughly enjoy the NBA, NHL, and MLB playoffs–there are plenty of great games, along with plenty of drama. But in a seven game series, it’s not uncommon to find the top one or two seeds in the championship–understandably so. The best team should absolutely win a seven game series. But that’s the thing about a series–you can afford to lose a game or two. In college hoops, if your team wants to hoist the championship trophy in April, six straight games is what it takes – there’s no room for error. Although a 16-seed has never won a tournament game, March Madness stays true to its word when promising upsets galore. Since 1985, when the field expanded to the current 64-team bracket, there have been 147 upsets in the first round (excluding 7-10 and 8-9 matchups)–the 15th seed has eight first round victories, the 14th seed has 21, the 13th has 26, and the 12th and 11th seeds both have 46. The tournament epitomizes the Cinderella story–from Rocky to Rudy to Hoosiers, people live to cheer for the underdog. And sometimes, if the stars align, there’s enough magic in the slipper to carry Cinderella to the Final Four.

The bracket

According to a survey from the American Gaming Association, over 40 million people submit a filled-out March Madness bracket each year, which is more people than voted for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. This just goes to show the grand scale to which this tournament spans across the nation–you don’t have to be a lover of the sport, or even watch basketball for that matter. Children who make picks based on the school mascot, people who close their eyes and point to a team, and grandparents who always choose the school where their grand-kids go will all be watching their brackets closely this year, red and green pens in hand, engaged in the madness as their teams advance or go home. We know the odds of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9 quintillion, but that doesn’t stop us from indulging in trash talk and bracket burning each and every year.

The buzzer beaters

A buzzer beater can be the epitome of the sport, or the driving force behind you burying your head in a pillow and not speaking to anyone for a few days, depending on which side of the shot you’re on. When the shot goes up, time seems to slow down, and suddenly we’re transported to one of those basketball movies in a high school gym where everyone is turning their head in slow motion, eyes as big as dinner plates as the star player releases the shot to win the state championship. Even though this is a scene from a movie, there’s no better way to describe a March Madness buzzer beater. But rather than spew imagery at you, it would be more beneficial to show you the Madness.

Below are two videos, one for our older readers, and one for the younger generation.

The clock is ticking, and the season is winding down. We don’t know what the postseason will hold in 2017, but we know there will be Madness. You may ask, why is this the case?

Because we just wouldn’t have it any other way.

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