There are so many great sporting events in the world. Some of them, like the Olympics or the World Cup, come around on four-year rotational schedules. Some of them, like the Super Bowl, happen on one big night every year. But as great as those events are, they don’t quite match March Madness. There are many reasons why we love March Madness. It’s fun to fill out brackets with your coworkers, family, and friends. It’s exciting to hop from game to game to keep track of all the action. It feels great when your school goes on a great run.
With March Madness 2023 fast approaching, let’s break down the reasons why this tournament is so special to sports fans and non-sports fans alike. It’s one of the best sporting events of the year, so let’s celebrate the reasons why we love March Madness.
The Wide Array of Teams
The start of March Madness comes when the teams for the tournament are announced. This is a huge day for many smaller programs and fans of schools that don’t always get national attention.
With a field of 64 teams, plus two (there are two games that determine the final two teams for the full bracket), there are a huge number of teams with a chance at a national championship. Some of them don’t have a very big chance to win it all, but they all have a shot at it.
That’s twice as many teams as you see at the World Cup and significantly more than any playoff tournament for any professional sports league in America. That means there are well-known programs that most people have opinions about as well as underdogs that neutral fans can root for up and down the bracket.
The chances are good that, even if you didn’t attend one of the competing schools, you are geographically near at least one team’s home campus. That means that everyone in America can look at the bracket and pick a team to root for, even if they don’t pay attention to college basketball.
Having so many teams from so many different places with so many potential stories to tell means that every tournament is easy to get invested in as a fan, no matter your background with college sports. That easy investment is a big reason why we love March Madness.
The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat
Another big reason why we love March Madness is that we don’t just experience victory and defeat vicariously. We certainly cheer and celebrate when our teams and we get sad when our teams lose, but for March Madness fans, it goes to a different level.
Thanks to the tradition of March Madness bracket predictions, everyone gets just a little more invested than they might be otherwise. When we join prediction contests, we get our own sense of victory and defeat.
There is very little that’s as satisfying as the schadenfreude of March Madness. Schadenfreude is a German word for “taking pleasure in the misfortune of others” and seeing a person who knows nothing about basketball put together a bracket that outdoes the office blow-hard’s predictions feels GREAT.
And when you get an upset prediction right, it feels amazing. You really feel like you’re celebrating alongside the kids on the basketball court. Giving yourself a reason to celebrate or lament each and every tournament game makes the whole thing feel personal.
It’s difficult to estimate how many people watch March Madness, but some years, as many as 70 million brackets are filled out—and that number may not include some casual bracket contests between friends or neighbors.
Perhaps the best thing about making your March Madness 2023 predictions is that you aren’t limited to only one bracket. You can enter as many contests as you want. Many online contests will allow you to fill out as many as 10 brackets.
And if your bracket is busted early or you missed out on the news of when March Madness starts, many places have consolation contests where you can fill out a new bracket starting at the round of 32 or even the round of 16!
That level of participation in the tournament is a massive reason why we love March Madness.
Rooting for the Underdog
There are many March Madness traditions out there, but for many of us, the biggest one is rooting for the underdog in every game, no matter what. Most of the time, it doesn’t work out. But every year, there’s a team that, on paper, should never win but they do.
These Cinderella stories of the underdogs making deep runs in the tournament never get old. We love seeing a team of plucky Davids taking down a squad full of Goliaths. And with such a deep field of competitors, there is always that chance of an upset.
This can make the early days of the tournament especially exciting. On early March Madness dates, there is nothing better than either watching several games on different screens at once or hopping between games so you don’t miss a single upset.
Along similar lines, there is something uniquely magical about the end of games during March Madness. It feels like, on some days, you can hop from watching the end of one game to the next and they all end on something spectacular.
You’ll see a half-court shot to win the game on one channel, then switch over to see a miraculous mid-range rainbow seal the victory for a different team, and then see a three-pointer off a last second inbounds pass of the next channel. All within a few minutes of each other.
Nothing can compare to that kind of thrilling action. You don’t need to know what’s been happening in the game. You just see the clock, see the shot, and see the crowd go nuts and it makes you go wild, too.
That’s the magic of March Madness. That’s the excitement that it creates every year. That’s why we love March Madness.
The Chance to Attend a Game
Many big sporting events are difficult to attend. That isn’t always the case when March Madness comes around. Because of the size of the tournament and the number of rounds of play, tournament games are played at venues all over the country.
Locations for March Madness are selected long before the tournament starts, but the chances are good that at least one of those locations is near your home city or state. So airfare out to a tournament site will likely not be prohibitively expensive—especially for early round games.
As things approach the tournament final, the number of venues drops and tickets can be harder to come by, but that’s only natural.
Each Game is Self-Contained
With many professional leagues or international sporting events, tournaments include teams playing each other more than once. For example, The World Series is a best-of-seven-games contest between two teams that have each won playoff series leading into the big event.
For the casual fan, that can get in the way of their enjoyment. They are being asked to emotionally invest in one team over the course of more than a week. By contrast, each game during March Madness is high stakes—if you win, you keep going and if you lose, you are out.
Every game is a chance to root for someone new at first and make investments as they progress further. And with 48 games played over the course of four days, there are plenty of opportunities to get invested in new teams.
All of those high stakes games create amazing subplots and stories that then drive further emotional investments from casual viewers and fans alike. Those stakes are a big reason why we love March Madness.
So Many Reasons Why We Love March Madness
March Madness 2023 is going to be amazing. Whether your brackets get busted in the first round or you stay picture-perfect all the way through the tournament, you’ll have a great time watching from start to finish.
And if we’re being honest, everyone has different reasons for getting into the tournament. But having so many potential teams to root for, getting big wins in our office bracket pools, the thrill of seeing underdogs win, watching buzzer-beaters, and reveling in the high stakes of the tournament are the biggest reasons why we love March Madness.