March Madness bracket
(Mike Allen)

How is your bracket holding up this March Madness?

I haven’t filled one out in years, but if I had done so this go-round, “busted” would be putting it lightly. I have a suspicion I wouldn’t be alone there either. Many favorites, including some major programs like No. 1 seed Purdue, have gone down in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. In the Boilermakers’ case, they lost to Fairleigh Dickinson University, only the second time in the tournament’s history for a No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed.

It wasn’t long ago when the first instance of this massive March Madness upset happened. In 2018, UMBC beat Virginia, achieving something most thought couldn’t be possible… and it was a blowout, to boot. Meanwhile, this year, No. 15 Princeton also topped No. 2 Arizona. While a No. 2 seed beating a No. 15 seed has never been quite as unfathomable, it can also cause bracket chaos when it does occur. That’s all part of the fun, and what makes creating even a semi-accurate bracket nigh impossible in recent years.

Early player entries into professional basketball — be it the NBA,the  G League or overseas somewhere — have dramatically lowered the ceiling on college basketball. There have been times in the past few seasons when I’ve even considered it an unwatchable sport. However, I can’t deny that the NCAA tournament still has a bit of magic to it. Just don’t ask me to predict the outcomes.

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Mike Allen is a graphic designer, painter, printer and tailor. He has a fine art degree from the University of Oklahoma.