NCAA basketball fans turn in brackets for money, “bragging rights” and the love of the game.
Though no one will win Warren Buffet’s billion dollars this year, March Madness is still sweeping the Augustana campus.
Students are creating NCAA division I basketball brackets for both online and between-friends competitions in hopes of winning either cash prizes or what junior Ryan Turnquist calls “bragging rights.”
“[My friends and I are] too poor to put money down,” he said. “I’m going to watch the games anyway, so I might as well have more of a vested interest in it. [Creating brackets] is just kind of a way to make it a little more fun.”
While Turnquist watches the tournament purely to “see good games” regardless of which team ultimately wins, others, like freshman Tanner Williams, are in it for the money.
“Two or three years ago, I won [a tournament] at our high school,” he said. “We have a big bracket there, and I won a thousand dollars or so. It’s always a good opportunity to make a little extra cash on the side.”
Though the payout will probably not be life-changing, entering brackets in small pools can also be “a lot of fun,” according to senior Kelsey Junget.
“[My friends and I] put ten dollars to get into the pool, and we’re doing winner takes all,” she said. “I really like the competitive nature of it. Being able to rally behind a team and cheer for someone you wouldn’t normally cheer for [is fun].”
For most participating students, creating March Madness brackets is an annual tradition.
“Growing up, even as a kid, I used to fill them out with my dad,” said Turnquist. “When I was eight or nine years old, I picked the national champion. That kind of hooked me, so I’ve been doing it for years.”
While Junget, also an experienced fan of March Madness, compiled only one bracket (predicting Michigan State’s triumph over Arizona in the final game), Williams made approximately 20 different sets of predictions.
“I’m in like six different [tournaments],” he said. “It got a little out of hand, but that’s okay.”
Students’ levels of dedication to NCAA basketball may vary, but, according to Williams, the fun of March Madness lies in its ability to entertain both devoted and casual fans of the sport.
“It’s an exciting time of year, because it gets a lot of people involved,” he said. “You don’t really have to know a lot. People pick schools based on their favorite colors or how cool their mascots are. Anyone can really do it.”