Every year, hardcore sports fans and non-sports folk alike come together to fill out the brackets for one of the biggest sports events of the year: NCAA March Madness Collegiate Basketball tournament. It brings the two cultures together across the country and in our newsroom.

In that spirit, two staffers, one representing each side of the aforementioned sports fandom spectrum, have accepted the challenge of going head to head in a bracket-picking showdown.

Editor in Chief Riah Trevino represents the clueless viewer. Her picks may come down to which uniform, mascot and colors she likes best.

Sports Editor Alex Mielcarz represents the hardcore sports fans. He’s watched college basketball all season long, and prides himself on his sports knowledge and opinions.

The funny thing is, Trevino is probably better suited for this challenge. The hardcore sporties such as Mielcarz, tend to overthink. They are more than likely to overthink each individual game, seeding, odds, etc. Whether that helps or hurts Mielcarz is yet to be seen, but nevertheless, it should be fun.

Riah’s Bracket:

Riah's bracket, showing Maryland, Florida, Cincinnati, and Kansas in the final four, with Cincinnati as the Champion.

Sports are really boring and confusing, so staring at a bracket of states’ names was disappointing, since I was at least looking forward to reading all the mascots.

Does college basketball not have mascots? And since when did teams have a name that was a bunch of letters, like (16)NCC/NDAKST (I know realize that this is a play in game, but you get the point)? They sounded smart, so I think they’ll win over some thing called (1)Duke.

When it came to (5)Mississippi State vs. (12)Liberty, it was an easy pick – women need more representation in the sports field, so Miss. State is a shoo-in for the W.

The closest I get to sports is our high school’s IHSA speech team, where I do radio speaking. This includes cutting together a vocal broadcast show with sports, news, weather. As I read through the bracket, familiar teams came up – that’s when I realized, the winners tend to be the schools named after states.

I remember (12)Oregon, (10)Iowa, and (7)Cincinnati, the latter being one of the final four.

My picks to reach the Final Four are (6)Maryland, (10)Florida, Cincinnati, and (4)Kansas. These state schools are vaguely in my memory (even though I don’t recall if any of them won a lot).

To figure out who was going to win matches was difficult, with just access to the name. Still, there was no way I would ever take the time to look up “stats” and “upsets” to get the perfect bracket. My brain almost melted just from reading it in the first place.

So, I hereby predict Florida, the entire state of Florida, will win this Madness of March. Because I said so, and my word is law.

Alex’s Bracket:

Alex's bracket, showing Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee, and Houston in the final four, with Duke as the champion.

You would have to be living underneath a rock to not know the names Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett of (1)Duke. They are, at least in my eyes, the best team in the country and a lock for the national championship. Then there’s the field. There are plenty of potential Cinderellas and upsets, but which did I find the most intriguing?

What jumped out to me right away was (12)New Mexico State. A mid major team from the Western Athletic Conference has Cinderella written all over them. I have them reaching the Elite Eight and falling to (1)North Carolina.

As for my Final Four, it’s pretty straight forward, with one exception. I’m predicting a rematch of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational final between (1)Gonzaga and Duke, and then a game that not many others are talking about happening: (2)Tennessee and (3)Houston.

The Cougars of Houston have had a very good season at 31-3, and have flown under just about everyone’s radar, except mine. The Cougs will make a final four appearance for the first time since 1984 and the program that brought America Phi Slama Jama will rise to the Final Four ranks again, however, they will ultimately fall to the Volunteers in the national semi-final.

As I already mentioned, Duke is going to win the National Championship in Minneapolis, Minnesota against Tennessee in an ACC vs SEC battle for the ages. The best time of the year is back ladies and gentleman. Let the Madness begin.

Oh, and by the way, after seeing Riah’s bracket, I am VERY confident that I am going to win this challenge.

The Round of 64 starts on Thursday, March 21, and continues through April 8. After a champion is crowned, we will revisit the brackets and see who won the challenge.

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Hey, I’m Riah, and I’ve been on staff for 42Fifty before it was really 42Fifty. I’ve been making videos for Oswego High School journalism since freshman year, and it has been great watching the program grow. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a workaholic obsessed with my video and film work. I’m excited to be an Editor-in-Chief for my senior year.


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