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Freshman Kolbe edges out narrow win in March Madness bracket challenge

Photo Courtesy of Max Wear ’17 – Students watch the March Madness tournament in the SAC.

By Henry Erlandson ’16

After a last second buzzer-beater by Villanova to win the National Championship game Monday, April 4, Jack Kolbe ’19 squeaked by the remaining competitors to win this year’s March Madness Bracket Challenge.

The tight race between Kolbe and second-place finisher Enrique Ortega ’18 came down to the final game, which ended on a game-winning three pointer.

Kolbe correctly picked the second-seeded Villanova to win it all while Ortega chose North Carolina to win, who ended up falling to Villanova 77-74 in the championship.

“I thought North Carolina was playing really well at the beginning until the second half where it seems like they lost everything and that Villanova just came out stronger,” Ortega said about the game.

Kolbe finished with a total score of 100 points, followed by Ortega’s 99 points and third place finisher Will Graham 18’s 94 points.

Participants receive points for each team they correctly predicted to move on and the value of each pick increased as the tournament progresses, meaning that predicting the winner was worth the most points.

The victorious Kolbe accumulated 22 points in just the second round when he correctly chose 22 of the 32 teams to move on from the round of 64.

Both Ortega and Graham said the championship game between the Tar Heels and the Wildcats ranks among the greatest games they’ve watched.

“It was a great game down to the final seconds and pretty nerve-racking,” Graham said.

Ortega said that the biggest surprise of the tournament was having Gonzaga and Syracuse advancing into the tournament as far as they did.

Of the top 50 brackets, not a single student selected the 10th-seeded Syracuse to make it to the Elite Eight.

“Probably the biggest surprise in the tournament for me was doing so well in my bracket because I didn’t spend a lot of time on it and I just went with the higher seeds,” Graham, an Arizona State fan, said.

More of a University of Arizona fan than a Villanova fan, Kolbe said he was surprised to find out that he did so well in the tournament and only realized he was in the lead after Mr. Scott Middlemist mentioned it to him in class.

“I had a flex period the day before [the bracket] was due and people were talking me into it, so I did one and I just didn’t want a one seed to win,” he said.