March Madness: The Most Entertaining Crap Shoot Since Craps

Gambling = fun. There’s just something invigorating about risking hard-earned money in a frivolous situation in which we’re never guaranteed a chance of winning. Whether it’s mindlessly pulling a slot machine lever for hours on end or throwing down coin on a horse because it has the same name as a popular baseball player,  life is just more interesting with a well-placed wager.


That’s why we love March Madness.


You don’t need to know much about college basketball to get caught up in the hype or to actually win in a March Madness pool. “Experts” might have a system for picking teams, but it only takes a few upsets to dynamite their brackets.


This year’s regular season was a perfect illustration of how unpredictable the college game can be. Through March 12, 147 top-25 teams were toppled by a worse-ranked opponent, including 60 instances in which a top-10 team was beaten. And if you thought a No. 1 ranking was insurance against an upset, you are a dunce; the “best” team in the nation was upset seven times this season.


Making the tournament


There are 347 Division I basketball teams in the nation, but only 68 spots are up for grabs. If you win your conference tournament, you automatically qualify for the national tourney.  That’s how some loser teams fall ass-backwards into the big dance. To fill the final 37 slots, a 10-person committee picks the next best 37 teams in the nation.


What to watch for


·       No. 1 seed Indiana University.Although Indiana lost in the Big 10 tournament final, plenty of analysts predict the Hoosiers will cut down the nets come April 8. They play a high-tempo game and score a TON of points. They rank second in the nation in points per game (80.8), are seventh in field goal percentage (.488) and are led by junior guard Victor Oladipo and sophomore center Cody Zeller – the younger brother of NBA players Tyler and Luke. If you enjoy big white guys that score a bunch of points and rebound like fiends, Cody Zeller is your man.

·       A 16 seed winning a game.No 16 seed has ever won a game in the tournament. That’s a record of 0-112. But that means they’re due!  Keep an eye on all the 16/1 matchups in the first round because everyone enjoys watching a historic game unfold.

·       Michigan’s Trey Burke, Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr., Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk. There are two simple reason’s you should try to catch all of these guys’ games: they’re the best candidates to win this year’s NCAA Player of the Year Award and there’s a good chance this will be the last time you can watch them play college basketball (they’ll probably all be selected in the NBA draft in June).

·       No. 6 seed UCLA on upset alert against No. 11 seed Minnesota. Although the No. 11 seeds have an all-time record of 67-132, this is a scary matchup for UCLA. The Golden Gophers are more than capable of competing with UCLA, it just depends on which Minnesota team shows up – the one that lost its last three games or the one that upset Indiana as well as Wisconsin, the eventual Big 10 tournament champions.

·       The Big 10 rolling.The Big 10 has seven teams in this year’s tournament, second to only the Big East, which has eight. The Big 10 is arguably the best conference in the nation and six of their seven tourney teams are favorable seeds in the first round. If Indiana doesn’t win it all, don’t be surprised to see a different Big 10 team holding the trophy when it’s all over.


Where can I watch it?March Madness is getting the Belushis treatment this year with many of their bars (scattered across the country) televising every game live! They’re not stopping at the matches though – expect basketball hoops around the bar, staff dressed up as refs and cheerleaders, and special March Madness menus that include hot dogs, wild cat wings and Carolina Chilli Cheese Fries – mmm… Sweet, sweet calories – USA-style!


With great food and drink on offer and late-night parties on Fridays and Saturdays, any of the venues will be worth a visit during March Madness. To check out which bars are showing which games, check out MatchPint’s March Madness page.

Are US sports your cup of tea? Why not check out our list of best bars to watch American Sports in London?


Pete Dombrosky