The tournament that puts the madness into March

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Every year millions of Americans fill out NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament brackets in anticipation of watching the games. This is just one of many reasons why the tournament is one of the most popular sporting events.

Gambling is a large part of why this event is so popular. Most workplaces have a bracket pool and you can also enter brackets on websites such as ESPN.com and CBSSports.com.

In fact, 18.8 million people entered ESPN’s tournament challenge this year, which is five million more than last year.

Gambling isn’t the only reason the tournament is popular, though. The nickname for the tournament is “March Madness.” It is called this because most of the tournament is played in March. The madness part of the nickname comes from the buzzer beaters and upsets that occur.

The tournament usually lives up to its nickname. This year, there wasn’t a whole lot of madness in the first round. The second round, however, made up for that. Multiple national championship contenders lost, including Villanova, Duke and Louisville.

The third and fourth rounds are called the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight because that’s how many teams are left in each round. We saw two buzzer-beaters win the game in these rounds.

The first one came when No. 4 seed Florida played No. 8 seed Wisconsin. There were actually two buzzer-beaters in this game. Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter hit a running three to tie the game at 72 with two seconds left and sent it to overtime.

In overtime, Wisconsin was up two with four seconds remaining. Florida’s Chris Chiozza then hit a running three at the buzzer to give Florida a 84-83 victory.

The second buzzer-beater to win the game came when No. 2 seeded Kentucky faced off against No. 1 seeded North Carolina. Kentucky was down three before Malik Monk hit a fade away three to tie the game with 7.2 seconds remaining.

North Carolina opted not to take their final timeout as Theo Pinson dribbled the ball to just inside the three-point line before handing it off to Luke Maye. Maye then nailed an 18-foot jump shot at the buzzer to give North Carolina a 75-73 victory and a trip to the Final Four.

That is what I call madness. Those two games were something you would see in a scripted movie. Sports is the best reality TV out there because none of it is scripted. It’s all real.

Another thing that makes the tournament great is the stories. Maye came into the game averaging 5.5 points a game. He scored a career-high 17 points and made a shot that will forever be remembered in college basketball history.

Another great story in this tournament is South Carolina. They are a No. 7 seed and beat Duke, Baylor and Florida to get to their first ever Final Four.

The emotion in the players and fans is what really captivates me. Every year after the championship game, there is a song called “One Shining Moment” that plays over a highlight montage of good plays and emotions of players, whether it’s sad or happy.

If you have not watched it, I highly recommend it.

This is my favorite sporting event because it is completely unpredictable. Whether it’s who you predicted to win or who you want to win, nothing is ever certain in the NCAA Tournament. Except a No. 16 seed beating a No. 1 seed. That has never happened. But it more than likely will at some point in time because that’s how crazy this tournament is.