March Madness (and what Homestead and Indiana have to do with it)

Jacob Houser, Writer

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          The time is now- you’re probably already seeing people talking about their favorite college ball teams, filling in their brackets, and predicting who’s going to win it all. March Madness- a cultural highlight of the early year, and really the one thing that makes March not as boring as January or February, is really something to behold- you don’t usually see fanfare on this scale for college football, and sometimes not even for the NBA and NFL. Whether you watch college basketball frequently or not, you’ve most likely seen if not participated in the mad game that is filling out a bracket. So many people, so many predictions, sleepers, seeds, it’s a lot to look into. There won’t be a class where students won’t be talking about the Big Dance. And while you probably shouldn’t be filling your brackets out in the middle of class, you’ll most likely see kids and maybe even some teachers doing it.


Teachers Too!

          Teachers, just like students, like to partake in March Madness every year as well. Sometimes, classes will hold their own tournament- something along the lines of “Whoever predicts the most games correctly wins candy.” “Personally, I don’t do anything with my class, but I know at least 25% of my students fill out their brackets each March,” said Mr. Skelton, a Geometry and Algebra 2 teacher here. “I watch as many of the games as I can, and although I fill my bracket out for fun it’s always exciting to win!” Teachers also love to compete with their families at home. “Playing with my family and friends is certainly something I look forward to every year,” said Mr. Frazier, one of Homestead’s health teachers. “The tournament makes for a fun environment and has a lot of fun games to watch. Everyone gets involved one way or another, making it much more interesting and exciting for the whole school.”

 

Homestead’s History

          Believe it or not, Homestead has a little piece of history when it comes to March Madness. Does the name Caleb Swanigan ring a bell? If it doesn’t, let me enlighten you. Swanigan is a proud Homestead alum who now plays for the NBA’s very own Sacramento Kings. He is Homestead’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, and second all-time in blocked shots. He was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 2015. Good stats, huh? Well, Swanigan went on to play for Purdue and led them to the Sweet 16 in 2017, unfortunately falling to Kansas 98-66. Swanigan was named the Big Ten Conference player of the year, despite their early exit. Isn’t that neat?

Brackets on Brackets on Brackets

          As cool as Swanigan’s story is, it ended with a loss, meaning we can’t really talk about much more. But now, we reach the most iconic part of Madness- filling out brackets. Students were surveyed to find out what they did for March Madness, and 72% of the students asked said they filled out a bracket when Madness came around. 12% said they knew of Madness but didn’t participate, and 16% said they did not know what what March Madness was (ridiculous!). Half of the students who participated in March Madness said they fill out a bracket in a separate league, such as ESPN’s Tournament Challenge. A few of them said they played with friends. “I usually do a bracket or two in the ESPN Challenge, and this year I’m definitely picking Duke, but I think Gonzaga has a chance as well this year,” said T.J. Franklin (9). “It’s a challenge, having to choose between all these good teams.”  

 

Representing Our State

          Although our local teams didn’t get much representation this year. Notre Dame, Butler, Indiana, and Purdue-Fort Wayne all missed out this time around. Gladly, Hoosiers still have basketball darling Purdue to watch. Indiana’s basketball teams have definitely been elite for a long time, however. All of Indiana’s teams combined have 109 bids total (39 from IU, 36 from Notre Dame, 16 from Butler, 9 from Valparaiso, 7 from Ball State, 4 from Indiana State (Thank you Larry Bird!) a lowly 1 from IUPUI and an even more lowly 0 from PFW), and 5 National Championships, all from IU. Our state has also produced NBA stars like Victor Oladipo, Gordon Hayward, Eric Gordon, and Glenn Robinson. That’s something to be proud of.

 

When The Madness Ends

          Last year, the NCAA made 857 million dollars off of T.V. rights (channels paying money to broadcast the games) alone, meaning they most likely made at least 1 billion dollars plus off of a single college basketball tournament. A ton of money, right? It really does go to show the scale that March Madness operates on- it’s a nationwide competition, for both the players and the fans. Whether you participate in it or not, you’ve heard of it. Homestead has its slice of the pie, too. So, now that you’ve heard about March Madness, go participate! Good luck on your brackets!

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