Every real sports fan knows this line, “It’s AWESOME, baby!”
It’s that time of year again. The time when Dick Vitale magically reappears on television and forces you to hit mute. It is “March Madness” – the NCAA college basketball tournament that features 65 teams.
Along with all the television coverage, the NCAA basketball tournament has become a hot gambling event.
According to the Council of Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, gambling on the tournament has even surpassed gambling on the Super Bowl.
Kevin O’Neill, the deputy director of the Council, estimates that over $4 million is wagered each year over the Internet through more than 200 offshore betting sites, which amounts to more than the GNP of many small countries.
These figures do not even take into account unofficial pools that overtake many professional offices and college campuses.
According to sophomore Chris Welsh, even Quinnipiac’s campus has been affected.
“Personally, I wasn’t in any pools for money, but I know a lot of people that were and they got really into it,” said Welsh. “I spent a lot of time watching the games and keeping up with a free bracket I made on ESPN.com.”
As is the case every year, many students felt the sting of upsets that threw off their brackets. This year’s winner, Syracuse University, was not even ranked in the Top 25 before the season began.
“I know a lot of people that were surprised by Syracuse winning the whole thing,” said sophomore James Miller. “A lot of people thought Kentucky would win, so Syracuse winning messed up a lot of people’s brackets.”
While many students were interested in the tournament as a means to increase their bank account, others were more concerned with the quality of the games played.
“I actually thought this was one of the best tournaments I have seen in a while,” said Chris Mercurio, a sports fan. “It was better than any of the tournaments from the last ten years.”
According to junior Santo Galatioto, Syracuse was given an unfair advantage in the tournament by being placed in a “neutral” site that was so close to their campus. Syracuse played most of their games in Albany, only a short distance from their campus.
“I watched just about the entire tournament and was pretty happy,” said Galatioto. “But I think Syracuse was made into a drama story by allowing them to have a bunch of their games before the Final Four basically at home.”
Kevin Haney, a junior, agrees with Galatioto that the tournament was filled with drama.
“I think the reason the tournament is so exciting is because there is always a bunch of upsets and game-winning shots,” said Haney. “This year Maryland won on a three at the buzzer and a bunch of other games went into overtime.”
Still other students on campus were interested in the tournament for personal reasons.
Sophomore Chris Strasser had a brother that was involved in the production of the show for CBS.
“My brother is actually [host] Greg Gumble’s assistant, so he got free tickets to some of the games and was involved with the production,” Strasser said. “It was cool, because his name was on the credits and I was able to see some of the work he did.”
According to sophomore Ryan Peterson, he watched the tournament because of the great games, but also because he played against some of the players in the tournament.
“I actually played against Ben Gordon from UConn in high school,” said Peterson. “So I tried to watch all of the UConn games to see how he was doing.”