Sweet Sixteen: It’s Anyone’s Bet

This year’s NCAA tournament is definitely one for the books!

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Nathan Munson, Writer-East

COVID-19 has had a massive impact on most things in life–but, in the world of basketball, it’s definitely brought new meaning to March Madness.

Warren Buffett will definitely get to keep his billion-dollar-bet against anyone who can fill out a perfect bracket. Just look at what’s occurred on and off the court during the opening week of the NCAA tournament. Virginia Commonwealth gets knocked out due to COVID before they even get to play Oregon. Then, there was Round 1: No. 1 Illinois from the Midwest region, No. 2 Ohio State from the South region, No. 2 Iowa from the West region, No. 3 Texas from the West region–all out. Who stayed in? Abilene Christian and Oral Roberts? Yep. That’s right! All that calculating that goes into filling out a bracket…down the drain. Who could have seen this coming?

Freshman Dominic Bonner thought he had it all figured out. “I think the winners will be Texas Southern, Wichita State, Michigan State, and Norfolk State,” he predicted ahead of the tournament. “I also think there could be an upset: I think the way that Michigan State has been beating these higher ranked teams means they have a shot. I’m not saying they’ll make the finals, but they might have an upset or two.”

Unfortunately, all four of his picks are now out. But, at least Norfolk and Texas Southern made it through their first round.

So, what’s his next prediction? “Every game is going to run smoothly,” he shares. “It’s a question of when they’re not on the court: Can they stay away from others?” This might actually be the bet to make money on this year.

But, it’s a high-stakes game for the NCAA itself, as well. Last year’s cancelation cost the NCAA $56 million. To increase their odds of pulling off a successful tournament this year, the NCAA has decided to host all games in Indianapolis. Players are being tested daily, and all the incoming teams had to test negative for 7 days straight. Practices could not be held until at least two days of tests after a team’s arrival. All teams and players have to wear a tracker just in case some gets COVID.

With Rounds 1 and 2 in the books, the remaining teams now gear up to compete in the Sweet Sixteen, which begins on Saturday. Any bets on what happens this weekend? Will No. 5 Villanova take down No. 1 Baylor? Will No. 15 Oral Roberts continue it’s Cinderella story? On Sunday, will Michigan and Gonzaga hold on to their No. 1 rankings?

Truly, it’s anyone’s bet.