It’s that time of the year. Millions of viewers turn on their televisions to watch competitive and emotionally filled games of college basketball.
The 68 teams selected on March 12 to participate in the 79th edition of the NCAA tournament all have the same goal in mind: outlast each other and be named college basketball national champions.
Last year’s champion Villanova Wildcats won in tremendous fashion on a buzzer-beater three-pointer to defeat the University of North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74.
Last year’s finalists represent two of the four number one seeds in this year’s tournament, along with Gonzaga and Kansas. Thirty-two of the teams automatically earned a spot on the bracket by winning their conference tournament.
Freshman forward for the Castleton University Spartans men’s basketball team, Josh Hanson of Guilford, Vermont, was surprised when the University of Michigan won the Big Ten conference championship.
“I really didn't think they would pull it off, but they definitely earned it by beating teams like Purdue and Wisconsin,” he said.
Australian freshman forward Ben Mrowka is intrigued with some of the first-round matchups and possible games in the round of 32.
“In the first round, I'm excited to see Vermont try and upset Purdue. Vermont had a great year and definitely has a chance at knocking Purdue out,” Mrowka said, just days before Vermont fell short by 10 points.
He also said that a potential Michigan versus Louisville game is definitely worth watching.
Taurian Archie, freshman guard from East Elmhurst, New York, also spoke about this year’s tournament, and who he thinks will win it all.
“UCLA. I feel their guard play is unmatched and they all have a solid understanding of their roles and stick to their game plan very well,” he said.
But it’s not just Castleton University students who are hyped for the tournament. Peter Bell, an avid college basketball fan from Albany, New York, has been waiting all year for the unique matchups.
“One thing that I love about the tournament is some of the matchups that we see in the first round, like Miami and Michigan State,” said Bell. “It's always interesting to see the potential upsets that occur in the first round as well. That’s always my favorite part of the tournament. Seeing underdogs stun powerhouses.”
Although the likelihood of filling out a perfect bracket is rather low, the excitement that comes from these games is immeasurable. In the words of former NBA player Kevin Garnett, “Anything is Possible!”