It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And, no, I’m not talking about Christmas. This week marks the beginning of the widely-popular March Madness college basketball tournament. It’s safe to say there’s nothing sports fans have ever seen like the fabled tournament, which pits a field of sixty-eight college basketball teams with the ultimate goal of winning a national championship.
Unfortunately, last year’s tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year will start back up the tournament and the process of making bracket predictions. Many Prep students and faculty have favorite teams that play in the tournament and love to make brackets to submit to The Rambler’s Bracket Challenge.
One Rambler who is ecstatic about this year’s tournament is junior and avid college basketball fan Jacob Engel.
“It’s just how it’s not like the MLB or NBA,” he said. “It’s just one game where anything can happen,” Jacob said. “A 12-seed could beat a 5-seed, a 13-seed can beat a four seed; a 16-seed even beat number one a couple years ago. It’s just the fact that anything can happen, and that’s the beauty of it.”
However, it’s not just the students that loves college basketball. Many of the Prep’s faculty and staff, such as Mr. Hubert and Mr. Haller are big basketball fans as well.
“My favorite thing about March Madness is the opening days of the tournament,” Mr. Hubert said. “Usually it’s on a Thursday [this year it’s on a Friday], but it’s the buzz in the air when games are tipping off at 12
o’clock, which is during school or work and you’re trying to catch the games and keep up on the scores. It’s one of the few major sporting events that happen during the workday or school day, and I think that’s kind of a special buzz and energy the tournament has to it. Plus, the games and
the event itself with its buzzer-beaters, dramatic upsets, and the Cinderella stories; it’s all really fun.”
“My favorite part is probably the amount of games in a short time frame,” Mr. Haller said. “It gives you the chance to see which teams you guessed on. It’s like you’ve never seen these teams before, and you’re like, ‘Oh, they’re tough. You’ve seen them play? No, but I’ve heard that.’ So
it’s kind of like a big guessing game.”
In fact, the tournament’s opening round is so popular that many see it as a tradition to get together with loved ones and enjoy some basketball.
“I don’t have any traditions too crazy,” Jacob said about his March traditions, “There’s obviously filling out a bracket and watching the games with my parents, but I guess one would be where my grandpa is in a bracket league with someone he used to work with. It’s huge. There are like 150 people. We usually fill out two to three brackets. It’s really fun.”
Some of Mr. Hubert’s traditions date back decades.
“When I was in college, me and my brother Mike used to always get people to come up to his place and watch the games,” he said. “But just filling out the bracket is my favorite tradition. I’ve been filling out brackets since I was in first grade. There were kids in my class back then that said I was drawing
rocket ships, but they were actually NCAA tournament brackets.”
Now he passes on that tradition to his own kids as well as the students he teaches at Prep by overseeing The Rambler Bracket Challenge, a contest which he started in 2013.
The traditions revolve around family for Mr. Haller, too.
“[I have some traditions] with my dad,” Mr. Haller said. “Usually March Madness always lands on or around St. Patrick’s Day, and my late grandfather was born on St. Patrick’s Day. So it used to be us three and my brother, but now it’s just me, my dad, and my brother. We’ll just watch the
games and chill.”
After a hiatus due to a worldwide pandemic, March Madness has taken the American sports media by storm for its return. The excitement and anticipation for the tournament at Prep and around the country continue to build up into the eventual tip-off on Friday afternoon.