After two years, the most famous college basketball tournament in the nation is finally returning. The National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament, colloquially called March Madness, hosts 64 of the best college basketball teams in the United States. 

The popular tournament was canceled last year at the onset of the pandemic; this year, however, play will begin like normal. All teams are being kept inside of a bubble in the city of Indianapolis, meaning they will be restricted to the city during tournament play as to limit the spread of COVID-19. All games will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis.

To fulfill the commonplace tradition, I created my bracket this year in hopes of being the lucky winner of the ESPN Bracket Challenge, which rewards the person with the most accurate bracket with a large sum of money. I’ve had a pretty solid history of predictions so far, and I’m hoping that when the tournament is over, that success will be repeated.

Before the tournament started, I made a few predictions about the final four. I believed previously that Gonzaga University would play the University of Connecticut, and Villanova University will play the University of Illinois. I predicted initially that Gonzaga would go on to beat Illinois in the final game, by a score of 78-74.

However, this possibility is no longer the case. The University of Connecticut and the University of Illinois were both early exits from the tournament, meaning that my personal prediction no longer makes sense.

This may sound like an uneducated guess (since Gonzaga is the #1 seed for the West region), however I truly believe that this year will be dominated by the top teams. This Gonzaga team deserves the #1 seed more than any other team; their 26-0 record should be sufficient evidence of this. 

The Fighting Illini are the seeded at #1 in the Midwest division with a 23-6 record in the 2020-2021 season. Their March Madness conquest began in a game against the bottom-seeded Drexel University.

One of the headlining games from the beginning of the tournament is the play-in match between Wichita State University and Drake University. The Drake Bulldogs outlasted Wichita State Shockers in one of the “First Four” games, which are games that ultimately decide who will play in the tournament and who will not.

 The Bulldogs won by a final score of 53-52, a score that Drake University faithful may consider way too close for comfort. They will now advance into the round of 64, where they will take on the #6 seeded University of Southern California.

One major shock to the world was the March 19 contest of 15-seed Oral Roberts University versus the dominant 2-seeded Ohio State University. In my personal bracket, I predicted that Ohio State would go to the Elite Eight round and lose; the Golden Eagles held out the Buckeyes by a final score of 75-72, busting my bracket. There’s always next year, I guess.

Every year I like to throw in one predicted upset that wouldn’t really make sense: the year, that was University of North Texas versus Purdue University. As the 13 and 4 seeds, respectively, I had a hunch that North Texas would bring their best against the Boilermakers, and going into overtime, this was clearly the case.

The Mean Green held Purdue’s offense scoreless throughout most of the overtime period, taking full control of the court. The Mean Green were led by senior guard Javion Hamlet, who scored 18 points, hauled in five rebounds and dished out three assists to lead his team past Purdue.

Underdog teams have been busting brackets left and right, as 15-seed Oral Roberts University has been cruising through tough games, beating the 7-seed University of Florida. 

As we have seen in past years, the dominant Loyola University Chicago has come up big when they needed it most, and some can say that their success rides on one person: Sister Jean. After an inspiring pregame prayer from Sister Jean, the team’s good luck charm, the Ramblers were able to top the University of Illinois, the first number one seed to exit the tournament.  

All the magic and fun of the previous March Madness NCAA tournament in 2019 has come back, and fans everywhere have been excitedly keeping tabs on their brackets to see if they have the chance to win big.

Unfortunately, there are no more perfect brackets left according to an article published by the NCAA. Once the University of Maryland knocked the University of Connecticut out of the tournament, not a single perfect bracket remained.

The remaining games in the tournament will be streamable via the NCAA website or other platforms such as CBS.

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