Livewire March Madness Bracket Challenge


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After the tournament was cancelled for the 2019-2020 season, there were questions if there would even be a season this year. Strict ruling and contact tracing were put in place to ensure a season this year and after a five-month long season, the tournament is on schedule.

Keelin Davis, Website Editor

The Livewire Bracket Challenge is a tradition as old as the newspaper itself. Last year was the first in 20 years that we couldn’t host it because of COVID-19.We’re happy to be back, even if the feel is different and we can’t get copies of our special edition in your hands. The bonus for you is we don’t have printing costs to offset, so we’re doing this for free. Details are at the end of the article.

The brackets have been set. As of Sunday, March 14, the bracket for the NCAA tournament has been finalized after a hectic season. 

In a year of inconsistency, there were many teams who did not make the qualifications for the tournament. Each side of the bracket is filled with matchups that can lead to great games and big upsets. Many have already made predictions but it is still unclear who the favorite may be. 

Coming into this season, the rankings looked very similar to every other year, with the “blue bloods” leading the pack. After a few short weeks into the season, teams like Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina had all fallen lower into the rankings which caused lots of questioning towards the coaches and programs. This allowed for programs like Alabama, Texas, Baylor and Illinois to top the rankings and have standout seasons. 

This year, Kentucky only has one college (Morehead State), in the tournament. For the first time in over 50 years, Louisville, Duke and Kentucky all missed the final cuts. After a disappointing end of the season, Louisville was placed as the 69/first replacement team for the tournament but with no teams opting out Tuesday, March 16, they were excluded. With these teams being left out, many fans will be following other teams or won’t tune into the tournament at all.

Moving into the one seed for the west bracket and the number one overall seed in the tournament, Gonzaga looks to continue their hot streak. With one of the best offenses in the country, they will be a hard team to stop for anybody that crosses their path. A key matchup that stands out in the west is four seed Virginia who is coming off a long COVID-19 pause versus 13 seed Ohio, who is playing their best basketball all season. Another key matchup comes from seven seed Oregon versus 10 seed VCU who looks to pull off an upset to play a stacked Iowa team, led by Luka Garza, in the second round. 

The eastern side of the bracket is led by one seed Michigan who is coming off of a one-point loss against Ohio State in the Big 10 Semifinals. They have an easier road to the Sweet 16 than other teams but still have the possibility to face tough opponents such as LSU, Colorado and Florida State. There is a big change for upsets on this side of the bracket, though, with a hot Georgetown team led by their coach Patrick Ewing. This side of the bracket also features Rick Pitino in his first year back as a college coach in which he takes on two-seeded Alabama in the first round. This group of teams will make for some great games going forward into the later rounds. 

On the southern end of the bracket, Baylor leads as the one seed. Coming off of a fantastic season, they are looking to continue their upwards trajectory and their seeding helps greatly. They are in what seems to be one of the easier sides of the bracket but that doesn’t mean that they will make it out without a few fights. They are in contention to play a very experienced Wisconsin team or even a young, but talented North Carolina team in the second round. There are also a few key games featuring Texas Tech versus Utah State, who barely snuck into the 11 seed over Louisville. Virginia Tech also looks to pull off an upset over a Florida team that looks hungrier than ever. 

Rounding out the bracket in the Midwest, Illinois leads as the one seed. They have far from an easy road out of the first three rounds with ACC champions, Georgia Tech, and a looming Oklahoma State, running behind a top draft pick, Cade Cunningham. Not to mention, a hot West Virginia team and Houston are in contest to bring them trouble later on in the later rounds. Although they have a one seed, Illinois will have a hard time making out of the talented Midwest quadrant. 

Going into the final four, it will be very hard to predict which teams will be able to show up ready to play every game. Dissecting the bracket and the matchups, I believe that in the two final four games we will see Gonzaga versus Texas and Baylor versus Oklahoma State. Coming out of these games will be the two one seeds, Gonzaga and Baylor, who have proven to be the two most talented teams out of the 68 selected. Although Gonzaga seems to have the most cohesive offense, I believe that the Baylor Bears can outlast and outside Gonzaga in the championship game and bring home the banner.

The official Livewire tournament challenge will be run through the ESPN tournament challenge app and is open for entries until midday Friday, March 19.

The bracket group is called “BE Livewire Bracket Group” and the password is “belivewire.”