March Madness recap: Students reflect on busted brackets, unexpected success


provided by Christian Gluth

An unfilled NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket lies on a table with a pencil at hand. Many students filled out brackets similar to this one by picking the winners of each matchup and moving them into the empty space in the next round.

Grace Holleb, Features Editor

As Baylor beat Gonzaga in the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball championship game on April 5 in Indianapolis, some brackets got busted while others were winners. Some students credit their success to luck, while others lament in the loss of their carefully crafted brackets. 

2020 U-High alumnus Nolan Issa came in last in his group of friends, but he sees the positive side of his situation. 

“I absolutely did worse than I thought I was going to, but not by that much,” Nolan said. “Honestly, I’d say I’m pretty impressed by how bad my bracket was. It’s kind of an accomplishment because I was closer to getting it all wrong than anyone at Lab was to getting it all right.” 

In contrast, senior Loren Pope’s bracket for the women’s tournament finished in 2,538th place out of a few million brackets, including everyone on ESPN, and in the 99.7th percentile. Stanford beat Arizona 54-53 on April 4 in San Antonio.

Loren was also pleasantly surprised with the way his men’s bracket turned out. 

“I thought I performed reasonably well,” he said. “I tend to bank solely on the statistics when it comes to picking my teams. This year that didn’t really go my way with Illinois losing, still, and per usual, I performed pretty well.” 

Illinois, a No. 1 seed, was eliminated in the second round by Loyola University Chicago, 71-58 on March 21.

Out of the four years Loren has participated in a bracket pool, this loss will be the second time he has not won any of the pool and his lowest place yet. 

“That’s kinda how March Madness works,” Loren said, “and that’s the fun of it.”  

Crediting himself with a decent amount of men’s college basketball knowledge, senior Rohn Hoffmeister was very confident with his bracket picks. 

“I thought I was going to win the bracket, but I ended up losing by a large margin,” he said.

  Knowing little about men’s college basketball, senior Sophie Raphael consulted a friend to pick her bracket for her. She made sure to have her favorite team, Michigan, far along in the competition.

“I had Illinois winning, so once they lost, I quickly realized I was not going to win,” Sophie said. “After this tournament, I also realized I neither know nor care about basketball, but I’m trying to get interested in it and March Madness has helped with that. I do love sports games, and basketball will probably be a big part of my college sports experience.”