March Madness is Back After One-Year Hiatus


Tatum Herrin

March Madness 2021 is approaching; the annual college basketball tournament was canceled as a result of the pandemic last year. The tournament has altered some of its rules this year to accommodate safety measures. Staff illustration: Tatum Herrin.

Jake Lieberman, Staff Writer

March 12, 2020 marked the beginning of many shelter-in-place orders across the U.S. But for college basketball fans, March 12 became particularly devastating as the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the annual event that was kicking off that month.

Before the pandemic ended the college basketball season, the University of Dayton was ready to perform well with their forward leader Obi Toppin. They were not a Power Five team, and Dayton Flyers fans were eager for that national recognition, but because of the pandemic, their opportunity never came. San Diego State’s historic 30-2 season also came to an abrupt halt. Coaches, teams, players and fans faced many disappointments when March Madness 2020 was canceled.

 Now fans wait hopefully as the March Madness 2021 tournament is set to start on March 18. As March rapidly approaches, the opening tipoff to start the tournament is approaching soon.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, this year’s March Madness tournament will be held in Indiana at six different arenas. On Feb. 19, March Madness announced they will be allowing up to 25% of fans to attend games. However, there is a process of monitoring a team if any player or staff member contracts COVID-19 as they would need to test negative for seven consecutive days

“I love March Madness because it’s so unpredictable, and every game is so important and exciting. One shot, and a team can be eliminated — it happens in a blink of the eye,” sophomore Charlie King said. For King, the heat of the moment during the tournament is tangible. 

“Every year, I look forward to the month of March, knowing that I can watch games all day long with my friends. I love the idea of a seeded elimination tournament with college representation from across the country. Every team has a chance to win, and the tournament is filled with competition and upsets,” sophomore Ross Muchnick said.

This year, two teams are largely expected to perform well. The first team is the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The non-Power Five program is building something special in Spokane, Washington. On average, they score 93 points per game, which is first in the country. They share the ball well, averaging 18.7 assists per game, which is third in the country. Also, they have an accomplished athlete in guard Jalen Suggs, who is only a freshman but is extremely talented. The Gonzaga Bulldogs also include forward Cody Kispert, a well-known three point shooter, and forward Drew Timme, who shoots over 65% from the field and averages around 18 points per game. 

The second team that will likely make it to the championship game is the Baylor Bears. They are a highly-touted team this year. The Baylor defense is one of the best in the country, currently averaging only 60.1 points against them every game. On the offensive side, they are averaging 71.1 points per game, led by guard Jared Butler and guard MaCio Teague. Head Coach Scott Drew has been performing well; the Baylor Bears have been to five out of the past six March Madness tournaments. 

Fans express their love for March Madness through brackets. Each year, millions of fans try to chase down the perfect bracket by guessing who is going to win each game, but statistically it is extremely unlikely. In fact, there is a 9.2 quintillion chance of creating a perfect bracket. Nonetheless, millions around the globe are trying to predict the chaos.

As college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein says, “Anarchy? Nope. Just College Basketball.”