WHS students abuzz for March Madness

Danielle Scharfenberg, Reporter

March Madness came to be on March 27, 1939, when the University of Oregon defeated Ohio State University 46-33 during the first ever National College Athletic Association [NCAA] tournament. This became known as the Final Four tournament, which has since expanded both in size and popularity to become the March Madness loyal fans recognize today. By 2005, this college basketball tournament was the most popular sporting event behind the Super Bowl.

One of the main draws to March Madness, aside from watching the games, is filling out the famous prediction brackets. For some like junior Dylan Brocato, familiarity with the brackets started early in life and has become a tradition.

“I got into the brackets in around fifth grade, I believe,” Brocato said. “Sports have always interested me, and my dad was a big influence in that.”

Completing the brackets with favorite teams and trying to outwit others with your predictions is a great way to start some friendly familial competition.

“My [twin] brother and I can get a little competitive with our brackets,” junior Connor Lewis said, “but it’s all in good fun.”

From an educational standpoint, incorporating March Madness into a curriculum can be seen as good practice with conditional probability in the math classroom.

“In the past we’ve had a booth for it [March Madness brackets] at our math expo,” math teacher Katie Venneman said. “Our kids like sports and were interested in it. They thought there was no way to ever calculate a perfect bracket, but it can be possible with the right math.”

Activities like filling out the brackets can also promote healthy classroom competition and quick calculating.

“When we filled out the brackets in class there was a competitive element,” junior Loraine O’Brien said, “and I liked that. I had to think quickly and work with formulas I never had before. It was fun.”

According to bleacherreport.com, some projected winners for the 2016 March Madness bracket include the Kansas Jayhawks, Michigan State Spartans and the Villanova Wildcats. Junior Emma Boehmer loves the excitement she feels while watching the games and holding her completed bracket in her hand.

“When the game starts, your eyes are glued to the game. It’s fun to see how close your predictions were,” Boehmer said.

As a member of the WHS varsity girls basketball team, watching the games is a unique occasion for Boehmer.

“It feels personal,” Boehmer said. “We’re all competing at the same time for something we enjoy.”

Selection Sunday for March Madness started March 13, followed by “The Big Dance” first round matches March 15-16.

“Anything can happen and anyone can win,” Boehmer said. “It’s a cool experience to share with your teammates or the people around you.”