The final quarter of the year is a favorite with many basketball fans. It marks the end of the arduous wait during the summer and NBA games return to our TV screens. After the draft, many fans are eager to find out how their team’s new players will perform.
However, there is another part of the year that basketball fans love and that’s March Madness.
What is March Madness?
March Madness is a colloquial term given to the period between mid-March and early April when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) holds its annual college basketball tournaments.
The name captures the excitement that surrounds the “Big Dance”, which sees hundreds of basketball teams from colleges up and down the United States who compete for the honor of playing in the tournament.
To demonstrate the “madness”, you only have to look at the fact that there are 67 games spread over 3 weekends.
How Does it Work?
The tournament is spread over three weekends, with 68 teams competing in single-elimination games. The first weekend sees the field cut down to 16 (or the “Sweet Sixteen”). The second-weekend halves this own to the “Elite Eight” and then again into the “Final Four”. The third and final weekend consists of two semi-final games and a grand final which is known as the National Championship Game.
Basketball is the second most wagered sport in the United States and college basketball makes up a sizeable chunk of this market.
March Madness sees many hardened and casual college basketball fans partaking in various forms of wagering.
Throughout March Madness and the rest of the season, fans can place bets through sportsbook companies like FoxBet, who offer a wide range of wagers, including money line, point spread, and which team will win the national title.
Who Won in 2019?
The 2019 NCAA Men’s National Championship was won by the Virginia Cavaliers. They beat the Texas Tech Raiders in overtime, finishing the game 85-77. This was a game of two firsts, it was the first National Championship win for the Cavaliers, and for the first final since 2008 to go into overtime.
The game was closely fought from start to finish and could have gone either way, right to its final seconds of overtime. It was a disappointing game for the Raiders, as it would also have been their first-ever National Championship victory. It was also the first time both teams had made it to the final.
What about 2020?
Despite winning in 2019, it is unlikely that March Madness will end in another victory for the Virginia Cavaliers. Crucial players like De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome, and Kyle Guy all decided to enter the NBA Draft, leaving college early.
They are not the only team to suffer from this though, even championship favorites Duke have lost three top players.
Murray State, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Texas Tech, Maryland, and Kentucky have also lost some star players.
This means that many of the top teams will be filled with Freshmen talent. This can make it a little more difficult to predict the outcome of the games, but by March Madness time we’ll have had a better chance to see these new players perform.
Another Attempt for Texas Tech?
At present, it doesn’t look like Texas Tech will get a second chance at the National Championship in 2020. As well as losing a number of players, it appears that many bookmakers have written them off, as they currently have odds at around +3000 to win the National Championship.
It is still a little early to call who the winner will be, but by looking at the changes over the summer we can deduce some themes that are likely to be at the core of this year’s March Madness. Duke continues to be favorite, despite a number of big names leaving. Meanwhile, we’re unlikely to see a rerun of last year with either the Virginia Cavaliers or Texas Tech Raiders making the final.
All we do know is that come March Madness time, everyone’s eyes will be on the Big Dance.
Featured Image: Freddie Collins, License