Bailey McKeon ’22
You read that right, March Madness is back! After experiencing an abrupt cancellation in March 2020 just after the coronavirus pandemic sent the U.S. into a lockdown and a period of quarantine, March Madness is taking place this year. 2021 has brought back the excitement of sports, specifically basketball, to the month of March as we experience the anniversary of the COVID-19 shut down. And with the return of collegiate basketball playoffs comes the enthusiasm of fans eager to predict the outcome of this year’s tournament.
This past Sunday, or as basketball fanatics like to call it, Selection Sunday, called upon fans to create their brackets. Two proud Bantams, Olivia Hampton ’22 and Lily Wear ’22, took part in this year’s bracket selection. “We’ve been counting down the days until Selection Sunday all week. For some people, Christmas is the big day, but for us it’s Selection Sunday,” Wear added.
The two were crushed this time last year when the tournament was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns, which pushed them to make March Madness 2021 one for the books. “This year, with the world coming together to beat coronavirus, the madness is back,” Hampton remarked. The two spent the evening in their crescent townhouse making their selections while celebrating with pizza, beer, and chocolate covered strawberries, and of course, ESPN on their television.
“When I made my selections, I prioritized teams that I knew had done well in previous March Madness tournaments,” Hampton explained. “And for the teams that I was less familiar with or uncertain of, I chose the winner based off of which team name I liked best.” This explains why Hampton chose Gonzaga to be this year’s champion- they have done well in the past and, as Hampton put it, “they have a silly name.”
Wear, however, took a different approach. “I like to base my choices off of how nice people who attend those schools have been to me in the past. My ex-boyfriend goes to UConn, so obviously I have them losing in the first round,” Wear stated. “Secondly, I really value school colors, which is why I have Michigan winning the entire tournament. Bleed Blue and Gold, baby!”
Hampton and Wear found the tournament to be a great way to not only enjoy their love for basketball but to also come together during a period of mass isolation. They began a group to compete with their seven other roommates, whom they convinced to take part in the fun of March Madness this year. Entering their group requires a five dollar buy-in, along with a personal letter of intent to the Commissioner (Hampton). Hampton, Wear, and their other roommates will award the sum of the buy-in money to the winner of their bracket competition. They intend for the winner to spend the prize money on something enjoyable for their entire house. “This gives me something to look forward to keeping up with for the next month, which is always a joy during this pandemic,” Hampton expressed.
If you’re looking for something fun to do in the era of COVID-19, perhaps consider creating a March Madness bracket and inviting your friends to make one, too. Brackets lock on Friday at noon, followed directly by the commencement of the first round of games. Let the madness begin!