Mind Your March Madness Bracket Etiquette


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

As March Madness ramps up, so are student bracket competitions.

Zoë Kim, Staff Writer

Needless to say, it’s March, a promised land for the Villanova Wildcats—31 days of buzzer-beaters, unexpected upsets and school spirit. The past four months have been a roller coaster of wins and losses, but the ‘Cats are reaching their final destination.

Sophomore Joe O’Regan eagerly awaited Villanova’s first-round game against Delaware.

“March is the best time of year to be a Villanova student,” O’Regan said.

“People are smiling, dreaded cold weather fades away, and the flowers start to bloom. It also gives us an excuse to watch basketball for hours on end and fill out the perfect bracket. It creates just an incredible atmosphere that I’m lucky enough to be a part of.”

O’Regan is not the only one. Hundreds of students on campus counted down the days until the first game. On top of the games themselves, though, there would be no March Madness without the brackets.

Villanovans love our brackets. And who doesn’t? The bracket is a piece of art for basketball fanatics. With the bracket, people predict the outcomes of all 67 games in the tournament and the winning and losing teams. Hours are dedicated to pondering which team will win it all. Gonzaga? Auburn? Or our very own Villanova Wildcats?

The bracket’s appeal is the uncertainty and chance that come along with it. There is no way for people to accurately predict the winning teams for all 67 games, but it brings more excitement when watching.

“I’m super competitive, so I love comparing brackets with family and friends,” sophomore Kendall Fragetta said.

“It really makes the games more exciting to watch. They’re one of the best parts of the game.”

The odds of having the perfect winning bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion, but who’s to say that one won’t be you? Some turn to the elegance of numbers, but there is no way to account for luck and chance.

Others turn to trends. If, for example, one goes by school colors, it is best to turn to the blue end of the color wheel. Only once in the past 10 years has the winner not had a shade of blue in its colors.

I believe that well-curated brackets have first-seeds in the Elite Eight, a handful of upsets and the Wildcats in the Final Four. By now, brackets have already been busted with no perfect bracket left in all of America. But here is some etiquette going forward for March Madness brackets:

First things first: get ready for the upsets. By the Sweet Sixteen, not all the teams are the first, second, third or fourth seeds. Upsets are necessary in a successful bracket.

Consider the Cinderella Team, the 12th seed team which always beats the fifth, sixth or eighth seed. You have to pick at least one 12-over-5 first-round upset. In the past 31 years, at least one 12-seed team pulled an upset against a five-seed team during the tournament. In the past 13 years, at least two 12-seed teams pulled off an upset.

This year, it was 12-seed New Mexico State that beat UConn by seven points. Call it chance or the championship effort of the underdog, but it happens year after year.

Secondly, it’s important to listen to your gut. Your bracket is your own. Just because Clark Kellog and Seth Davis tell you Gonzaga and Arizona will be in the final two does not mean you have to agree. You can have your own opinions and root for your own team. Trust yourself and put down teams you are confident in. 

To save the most important piece of bracket etiquette for last, know that rooting for any team other than Villanova is a heresy. Hopefully, the Villanova Wildcats are winning it all in your brackets.

There is no school with more spirit and love for its basketball team than Villanova. Don’t root for Gonzaga because they’re favored, and don’t cheer on Tennessee because a relative went there. Have pride in your school and its players.

March brings out the drive, talent and will of basketball teams across the country, but it also brings out the most competitive sides of people. Hopefully, this year you might finally create the perfect bracket.