We’re just one weekend into the NCAA Tournaments. After the tournaments were canceled in 2020, and played behind closed doors in 2021, it's safe to say that the Madness is back. Screaming crowds in arenas across the country have presided over a slew of upsets, the rise of new cult heroes, and some of the best games we’ve seen in years. Not a single perfect bracket remains on ESPN.com.
After two rounds, first-year Jordan Leaf ’25 leads The Student’s men’s tournament challenge. Her bracket currently sits in the 99.7th percentile on ESPN. She saw Brady Manek and UNC coming; she predicts the run to continue into the Elite Eight. Three of her four Final Four teams are still kicking. As other top seeds have teetered on the edge, her winners, Arizona, have put together two comfortable wins. That said, Sandor Weiss ’25 may be in the better position overall. His bracket has the highest potential points total of all entries. Seven of his Elite Eight Teams remain. His Final Four is intact. He’s picked Gonzaga to win it all. And if they do, it’s likely that a trip to Antonio’s lies in his future.
As for how our writers are faring in The Student’s men’s bracket challenge, it’s been a bit of a bloodbath, especially for The Students’ editors. Managing Sports Editor Liza Katz ’24 has been the newsroom’s sole bright spot. She’s tied for eighth in the men’s tournament challenge — with six out of eight Elite Eight teams still going and her Final Four untouched. Things are relatively dire for the rest of the sports editors. Assistant Sports Editor Nick Edwards-Levin’s ’25 Kentucky were upset in the first round. Managing Sports Editor Leo Kamin’s ’25 Baylor fell in a classic to a scorching hot UNC team. Assistant Sports Editor Alex Noga ’23 sits in last place among the sports editors, his champions, Auburn, having lost by eighteen to the University of Miami in the round of 32.
On the women’s side, the mysterious Jerry1 leads the way. They picked 13 out of the 16 remaining teams and sit in the top 1.2% of brackets. The key to success this year seems to be faith in UNC: Jerry picked the Tar Heels’ upset over Arizona, and they even have them beating No. 1 University of South Carolina on Friday. They’ve gone traditional with their champion, rolling with UConn. The Huskies have found their stride with the return of Paige Bueckers, but barely snuck past seven-seed University of Central Florida in the second round. A tough road lies ahead for them, though, with the potential to play two-straight one-seeds if they get past Indiana University on Saturday.
As far as the editorial board goes, Edwards-Levin leads in the women’s challenge; his winner, Stanford, is still rolling, having notched a comfortable 30-point win over Kansas in the second round behind Lexie Hull’s career high 36-point performance. Noga sits two spots out of last, but he still has an outside chance of winning, as the sole owner of a bracket with tournament favorite South Carolina as champions. This is looking like a great pick: the Gamecocks set multiple records in their first round rout of Howard University, including the least amount of points allowed in a half in NCAA tournament history, with four (!!) and least points allowed in a game, at 21. Katz and Kamin seem to be out of the running — they have No. 1 seed Stanford winning, but have enjoyed less early-round success than Edwards-Levin.
With the Sweet 16 now upon us, more upsets are bound to be coming, and movement in the standings is inevitable. Tune into the Madness this weekend, with the next two rounds of the men’s tournament being played from Thursday-Sunday, and the women’s tournament running from Friday-Monday. And don’t forget to check back in next week for our Final Four bracket challenge updates.