Westerville North bracket madness


Donovan Varney (Senior)

Trevor Newtz (12) fills out some March Madness brackets for his tournament.

Donovan Varney (Senior), Editor-In-Chief

   The month of March is not only widely recognized for the beginning of Spring and the holiday St. Patrick’s Day, but it is also known for the beginning of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament dubbed as March Madness. Sports fans get two weeks of non-stop, highly competitive, and extremely unpredictable college basketball. What makes the month even more intriguing is that the bulk of the competition comes from the fans at home, and the wagers they place on their tournament predictions. 

   Every year, millions of people across the country partake in the popular March Madness bracket challenges. According to the American Gambling Association, 70 million brackets are filled out each year by roughly 40 million people. To put that into perspective, only 66 million ballots were cast for Barack Obama in the 2012 election. 

   Here at Westerville North, Trevor Newtz (12) organized his own March Madness bracket pool in 2021, and his competition returned for its second year earlier this March. Charging five dollars for each bracket entered, and limiting contestants to two brackets each, Newtz has organized a pot of upwards of $400.

   “The pot got up to $160 [in 2021]. So I thought, I bet I can double that this year, and we almost tripled that amount this year,” Newtz said.

   Newtz’s bracket pool was exclusive to Westerville North students last year, but thanks to people spreading the word this year, it’s grown to include fans from all over central Ohio.

   “I couldn’t have done it without social media. There’s kids from Dublin, Hilliard, and Olentangy hitting me up trying to get into this bracket,” Newtz said.

   With participants across the country gambling close to $10 billion on March Madness in 2021 (American Gambling Association), Newtz wanted to limit participants in his bracket to $10 wagered. 

   “The pot could’ve probably $500 or $600 if I had let people put in more but I decided to max people out at $10,” Newtz said.

   Also taking part in Newtz’s bracket is Wyatt Buxton (12). Buxton has participated in many bracket challenges in the past, and is excited to see the tournament back to normal after it was altered last year because of COVID-19.

   “The biggest difference between this year’s tournament and last year’s is the regulations about the amount of people at the games, but an underrated difference is that the players are able to sit in a row on the bench rather than be staggered and stay six feet apart,” Buxton said.

   Buxton’s been taking part in bracket challenges since he was seven years old, but finds placing bets on games and brackets make the tournament more exciting. 

   “I enjoy getting involved because the games in the tournament are as exciting as can be on their own. When I have a stake in a team, it makes me root for a winner in a game that I otherwise would not cheer for,” Buxton said.

   Similar to Buxton, Nick Peters (11) finds participating in March Madness bracket challenges exhilarating and uses it as a money making opportunity. 

   “I love basketball,” Peters said, “I try to take it seriously because the brackets can make me a lot of money.” 

   The competition that coincides with March Madness comes with lots of highs and lows, but still proves to attract plenty of people every year. Whether there’s money on the line, or it’s just for friendly competition, March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year. 

Out of 60 participants, 73% of people made at least one March Madness bracket.