March Madness has been underway for about a week (Why March Madness bleeds into April every year is beyond me). Bracket busts, Cin­derella stories, and demo­nizing Duke have become ritual for college bas­ketball fans, and this tra­dition takes hold of stu­dents around Hillsdale as well.

What makes March Madness fun?

Is it the magic of the month? The final, frenzied stretch of a beloved col­le­giate sport packed with action, a place where stars are born and dynasties are made? The sudden rel­e­vance of sta­tistics, crunching numbers and com­paring per­centages? Maybe.

For some it’s the brackets, to play the expert for a week while crafting the perfect bracket and then watching it all crash and burn. For others, it’s the excitement. Junior Clayton Van­derLaan said he’s in it for the thrill the tour­nament pro­vides.

“When you have that many games packed into such a tight space, you’re going to have some tight games and crazy moments, even between two teams that are evenly matched,” he said. “That’s just as exciting to watch as the upsets that everyone talks about.”

March Madness comes witha dis­tilled form of pure frenzy that all sports try so hard to capture. Regardless of the odds, some­thing crazy is going to happen this month. There will be some epic moment that will embed itself into the history of bas­ketball forever, some­thing everyone wants to be a part of. If not the 16 seed over the tour­nament favorite, which has only hap­pened once before, it’s the crazy ending to a coin-flip odds game.

It’s Uni­versity of Maryland Bal­timore County over Vir­ginia. It’s Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four. It’s crowding around tables in AJ’s or Saga streaming the games on phones. It’s being there for the journey to the Final Four, and then those games, too.

What goes into the perfect bracket?

Amaz­ingly, some stu­dents have enough time to make mul­tiple brackets. Senior Hung Luong has five, one for upsets, etc. But in the ‘main’ bracket, strategies can some­times be sci­en­tific or based on what you’ve learned from past years.

“My bracket revolves around con­ference play,” Van­derLaan said. “You could have really good teams out of the SEC, but you could have four teams in the ACC that will all be better than the best team in the SEC.”

This year, seem­ingly more than others, a battle of players more than coaching schemes has the potential to make or break your bracket. All the scheming in the world in the early rounds will only do so much. As the teams get deeper into the tour­nament the question really comes down to whether Duke’s Zion Williamson is worth all the hype.

“I have Duke winning it all. It’s really just because of Zion,” Troyke said. “I know Clayton dis­agrees with me on that, but I don’t care enough about Zion to argue about it.”

Freshman Jack Goelke, a bas­ketball player for Hillsdale, takes a more informed approach than Van­derLaan and Troyke.

“I watch a lot of bas­ketball during the season, so I have a pretty good feel for the teams. I usually take three or four upsets in the first round and take the higher seed for the most part,” he said

He said his bracket is doing pretty well this year, a bracket that has three one seeds, Vir­ginia, North Car­olina, and Duke,  and a two seed, Michigan, in the Final Four.

“It’s a win-win if my bracket busts,” he said. “Either my bracket does well or a cin­derella team makes the final four and it’s fun to watch.”

Van­derLaan can’t sep­arate doing well with his bracket and enjoying a good game the way Goelke can.

“Hon­estly, I don’t like making brackets some­times because I love to root for the underdogs and the upsets,” Van­derLaan said. “But if I’m making an accurate bracket then I’m caught between wanting to root for the underdog and root for my bracket, so I can’t fully enjoy the games as much.”

In any case, March Madness is in full swing and everyone’s watching. Whether you have money on the line or just want to see some­thing spec­tacular on the court, there are plenty of reasons to tune in.