Busted brackets

March Madness upsets lead to unique bracket


Sports Illustrated

Coming back from a 15-point deficit at halftime, the Kansas Jayhawks celebrate their victory over the University of North Carolina Tarheels, 72-69, in the March Madness Finals on April 4.

Sixty-eight men’s college basketball teams enter the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) March Madness tournament each year. With a large pool of teams, there’s surely going to be at least one upset. This season’s tournament was no exception, as several upsets occurred, eliminating the hopes of people striving to create a perfect bracket.

Starting with over 20 million brackets, only 192 perfect brackets remained after the first day of action. Just after 28 games, no feasible bracket remained. The best anyone has done was in 2019 when a bracket lasted 49 games with correct predictions.

Several upsets and a unique Elite Eight contributed to the elimination of hopes of that lucky bracket. In overtime on March 18, No. 15 St. Peter’s, the Peacocks, defeated No. 2 Kentucky, 85-79. St. Peter’s then went on an unexpected run, defeating No. 7 Murray State and then No. 3 Purdue on National Peacock Day on March 25. Despite losing to No. 8 North Carolina in the Elite Eight, the Peacocks still made college basketball history with their run.

“I thought [St. Peter’s] was really enjoyable to watch. [The team’s run] was just something that was kind of a joke at first but ended up being really good. It was cool to witness a small team go out and do so well in such a huge tournament,” sophomore Logan Bickerstaff said.

Other notable upsets in the first round of the East, West, Midwest and South sectors included No. 12 New Mexico State over No. 5 UConn, No. 12 Richmond over No. 5 Iowa and No. 11 Iowa State over No. 6 LSU. In the second round, No. 1 Baylor fell to North Carolina, 93-86, in overtime. After the Sweet 16 games concluded, only one No. 1 seed, Kansas, remained.

“After the first eight games, I thought I was the smartest bracket maker to ever exist. I was convinced I had made a perfect bracket, but after that St. Peter’s game, I knew there was no point in even looking at my bracket again. Tennessee really screwed me too,” World History teacher Cole Eged said.

After more close games, North Carolina, No. 2 Duke, Kansas and No. 2 Villanova rounded out the Final Four. In the finals on April 4, North Carolina faced off against Kansas; Kansas reigned victorious, 72-69, coming back from a 16-point deficit. 

The obscurity and frequency of upsets in March Madness make people wonder if a perfect bracket will ever happen. If a 50/50 chance determined the winner of a game, the probability of predicting a perfect bracket would be one in around 9.2 quintillion. Obviously, not every team has an equal chance of winning, but the odds to create this desired bracket are still high.

Since predicting the winner of games is so difficult, one doesn’t even have to be a basketball fanatic to make a bracket. For example, students of Print Media Workshop competed against each other in a bracket challenge. Some picked winners through prior knowledge, while others picked them based on intuition and preference. Through a tight competition, junior Leannah Messenger won and took home bragging rights.

“My strategy was to look for familiar teams I knew and then choose those teams,” Messenger said.

Overall, the 2022 March Madness tournament resulted in several upsets, nail-biting moments and unforgettable memories. Despite no one getting a perfect bracket, there’s always next year for that miracle to occur.