Students aim for the money shot

Jimmy Ray Stagg, Web Features Editor

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Sweat drips down the freshman phenom as he carries the ball up the court, while the clock winds down, and his team attempts to swipe a win away from a high-seeded favorite.

He pulls up just beyond the arc and drains a go-ahead three as the clock ticks down, leaving mere seconds on the scoreboard. It’s not enough time for the opposition to get a shot off. The crowd goes wild as people all over America groan for an upset and a blemish on their brackets. A button is pressed, the channel is changed, and another high-speed, heart-pumping, groan-worthy game flickers to life.

March Madness takes over Staples every year. Selection Sunday falls on March 16 this time around, so students are checking brackets and watching games on their phones and trash-talking friends about championship predictions and missed upsets. Jack Cody ’14 has an explanation for the heightened intensity around school.

“There’s always a ton of money riding on March Madness with bracket leagues like the Big Dance, which is open to Staples students of all grades, and other bracket leagues. Winners can potentially get $1,000 or more,” Cody said.

This year, however, there’s a prize far above the $1,000. Mogul Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway and online mortgage lender Quicken Loans are offering a billion dollars to anyone who can fill out a perfect bracket. Billion. With a ‘B.’ However, the odds of predicting all 63 games is 1 in 9.2 quintillion (18 zeroes). Regardless of these odds, many students are creating their billion dollar shopping lists.

Self-acclaimed college basketball genius Ryan Baer ’16 would wait until he was 21 years old and then buy the Utah Jazz. Adam Dulsky ’14 would pay off his parents’ mortgage, pay off student loans, and donate half to charity. Cody would buy tickets to each of the March Madness games to come.

Before they can cash in the big check, the students have to find a way to beat the ludicrous odds and form the flawless bracket. Some watch hours of film and spend hours checking stat sheets and doing extensive research to put the best predictions forward. Other students have their own personal rituals, like Dulsky, who says that he always puts a double-digit seeded team making it to the Sweet Sixteen. Despite all of their work, other students prefer to keep their tactics under wraps.

Whether or not any Staples students will attain the perfect bracket is yet to be seen, but an undeniable fact about March Madness is that it is pure, unadulterated fun to watch, as communicated by Baer.

“Everyone loves an upset, everyone loves a Cinderella story, everyone loves Dick Vitale, and everyone loves March Madness.”

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