4 Reasons Why March Madness is the Best Postseason in Sports

Other Sports | March 2, 2021


This isn’t one of those blog posts in which a hardcore fan of a sport explains why her favorite league has “the best postseason” or “the greatest championship.” Sure, we’re pretty hardcore fans of March Madness at Hidden Take, but we’re also big supporters of the NFL, FBS, NBA, PGA, Major League Baseball, even the Olympic Games and sports overseas. There’s no intended bias toward college hoops.

There’s a case to be made that March Madness is objectively the best postseason in sports, regardless of taste, or levels of basketball fandom. Almost no other playoff event in the world produces a level of interest above and beyond the draw of its sport’s regular season as the NCAA Tournament. Stanley Cup buzz crushes the NHL’s 82-game season, but is largely a local phenomenon. The Kentucky Derby draws a billion times more interest than other horse races, but there’s no official “regular season” for Thoroughbreds to compare it to. The world doesn’t care whether Michigan beats Cupcake U. by 15 or 50 points in December, but even those who don’t typically watch sports on TV can be found filling-out March Madness brackets.

The NCAA Tournament manages to avoid criticism that all other championship sporting events, from curling to figure skating, have to deal with every year. Basketball’s unique makeup and the NCAA’s canny promotion of March Madness allows the tourney to soar above the ordinary nonsense that drags other events down.

Scroll for Hidden Take’s four reasons why March Madness is the most successful (and fun) postseason in all of major sports.

Every School “Wins” the NCAA Tournament

The genius of March Madness is that every team in the field is a winner. It’s true that a top seed which loses early in the tourney, like #1 seed Virginia falling to unheralded UMBC in 2018’s Round of 64, will be lampooned in the media and considered a disappointment by its fans. However, the fact remains that nearly 400 Division 1 basketball programs vie for a March Madness bid every year, and only 68 of them reach the big dance. That makes an NCAA Tournament invite far more of an honor than a typical FBS bowl invitation, or even a trip to the NBA playoffs as a #3 conference seed. An invitation to the dance is a badge of success.

When a college has lost in the Final Four, hometown fans proudly wear “XYZ State 20XX Final Four!” T-shirts as if the school won March Madness. In a sense, it did.

The Best Teams Are Always in the Field

No matter who competes for a championship, there’s always a complaint that the best team didn’t get in. The College Football Playoff’s controversy will shift from “screwed fifth teams” to “screwed ninth teams” when the CFP expands to eight schools, since the field will stay small enough that some top-10 team can complain rather than focus on the Citrus Bowl. Not so with March Madness! Not only do a whole 68 squads compete for NCAA Men’s and Women’s championships on more-or-less equal terms, it’s rare for a seed higher than #3 or #4 to have any chance at winning. Nobody can say a superior team which would have gone 6-0 and won was ever left out of the mix, as the NCAA basketball committee invites several tiers of champions and contenders from all leagues from the ACC to the Ohio Valley.

March Madness Encourages Low-Risk Gambling

There’s plenty of March Madness betting at any sportsbook. But the NCAA Tournament has introduced countless North American sports fans to betting and “lottery” games, even those who’re shy to place “real” basketball bets. March Madness bracket sweepstakes and office pools might differ from point spreads and Over/Under totals, but the principle is the same – putting money in and hoping to take more money out when your predictions prevail. March Madness can be like a penny-ante “raffle” in which even the old ladies from church take part.

There’s Always a Cinderella at the Dance

Campuses are uplifted for years thanks to “Cinderella” runs at the NCAA Tournament, in which a humble March Madness seed knocks-off big shots on its way to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and occasionally Final Four. The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers were so beloved during a recent Cinderella run that the team’s #1 fan Sister Jean became the most popular clergywoman in four time zones. Wichita State has helped put multiple conferences on the map with brave March Madness performances as a middle or underdog seed. The best part is that when a Cinderella reaches the Sweet Sixteen often enough, it can grow into a small-market powerhouse, like the Gonzaga Bulldogs…a meek #10 seed back in 1999.

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Kurt Boyer

Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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