March Madness 2021: How it works, upsets and brackets at Branson


By Lucas Metzger

Every March, it happens. March Madness, the NCAA tournament where every 64 collegiate teams come together to play an elimination-style bracket, begins. This is one of the most highly anticipated sports tournaments every year, and it never fails to disappoint, with upsets coming left and right, and entertaining games coming down to the last shot. 

March Madness is always a big event, and the anticipated return of the tournament after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19 has just built up even more hype on campus, as everyone from students to teachers have entered bracket groups. 

First off, how it works is that every college team who qualifies for the tournament is seeded, and that determines the matchups. They then play each other elimination style, and the matchups are always that the No. 1 seed plays the No. 16 seed, the No. 2 seed plays the No. 15 seed and so on. 

According to the NCAA official website, the seeds for the tournament are voted on by the NCAA committee for basketball. Some of the factors that drive these decisions are the team that has the best record in their conference (SEC, ACC, Big 10, PAC-12, etc.) and who wins their conference tournament. 

So, some teams that might not have had a shot at going to play in the tournament because of their record could win their conference tournament and make the Big Dance. Then, the committee decides on a bracket, which is the tree of the actual matchups. This is what leads to the brackets that people get to fill out. 

Bracket groups are groups where people can enter their bracket selections into and compare them with each other for points. These have popped up all over campus, with the all-school bracket group reaching 100+ members and entries. Brackets and bracket groups are so popular at Branson and across the country because they are a fun way to follow the tournament whether you have no knowledge of sports or are a college basketball fanatic. Also, they are a great way to compare your bracket to other people’s, to see who called the upsets.

Speaking of upsets, this year has been especially fraught with them. You can list them off: No. 14 seed beat No. 3 seed Texas, No. 15 seed Oral Roberts beat No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 7 seed Florida, No. 12 seed Oregon State beat No. 5 seed Tennessee and No. 4 seed Oklahoma State, among many others. 

Furthermore, according to Mike Murphy at, there were no more perfect brackets left 28 games into the tournament, when Maryland beat UConn in the round of 64. This is really surprising, because usually there are a good number of perfect brackets up to the Sweet 16 and occasionally the Elite 8. For example, according to Murphy’s article, an Ohio man picked 49 matchups accurately in 2019, so this is early for the nationwide brackets to be completely busted. All in all, this has been one of the craziest years of March Madness to date, and brackets all across the country- and at Branson- have suffered pretty badly because of it.   

Although everyone who made brackets are probably angry that their brackets got busted so badly this year because of all the upsets, this is really what makes March Madness such a great tournament. The fact is, although there are favorites to win, you never know what could happen, and that uncertainty is what makes the tournament so great. March Madness 2021 certainly had that uncertainty, and will certainly go down as a tournament for the ages.