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Buzzer beaters, upsets, and betting: What you love most about March Madness

March Madness is here again, and fans are placing bets, building brackets and eagerly scheduling time to watch the big games. What's so special about the NCAA Tournament? An Opinion Outpost poll showed that, of all the exciting things in the tournament, viewers love the close games and buzzer-beating shots the most. 

Here's how respondents answered when asked what is the most enjoyable element of the tournament.

  • 41 percent said close games and buzzer-beating shots.
  • 31 percent said watching unpredictable upsets.
  • 16 percent said filling out and tracking a bracket.
  • 13 percent said the first round, when teams are playing all day and all night.

In honor of those responses and the start of the Big Dance, here are a few of the biggest moments from the event's past games.

No. 1 voted buzzer beater: N.C. State vs. Houston in the 1983 championship game
Tensions run high during any championship game, and the most unforgettable moments are often born in the heat of the last few seconds. ESPN held a poll regarding the greatest buzzer beaters in tournament history, and the championship game between North Carolina State and Houston took the top spot.

Here's a link to that legendary big finish. N.C. State's Dereck Whittenburg takes a desperate shot beyond the arc. Before the ball falls short of the rim, Lorenzo Charles launches in the paint for an alley-oop, dunking just before the clock stops. 

Even more stunning, N.C. State came out on top after losing 10 regular season games in 1983. They weren't expected to get past the Elite Eight and ended up winning the whole tournament. It's considered one of the greatest upsets in March Madness history.

No. 2 Arizona loses to No. 15 Santa Clara
There are dozens of upsets in the history of March Madness. Most college basketball fans know a No. 1 seeded team has never lost to a No. 16 seeded team. At very rare times, a No. 2 seeded team will lose to a 15th-seeded team. That's exactly what happened in 1992 in the first round of the West Regional in Salt Lake City. The Santa Clara Broncos were a 20-point underdog against Arizona's Wildcats. Even so, they managed to pull ahead after Arizona went on a straight 25-point run mid-game, according to ESPN. 

This was the second year in a row the Wildcats would exit the tournament in the first round after a shocking upset. In 1992, they lost to the 14th-seeded East Tennessee State.

You'll never build the perfect bracket
It's common knowledge that no one has ever perfectly predicted the outcome of all 64 March Madness games. Mathematically, your odds of making the perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, according to The Washington Post. 

Warren Buffet, Quicken Loans and Yahoo popularly offered $1 billion to anyone that did create a flawless bracket in years past, knowing that it's near impossible. That offer ended just this year after several lawsuits, according to Bleacher Report. March Madness fans might have something a little more feasible to look forward to in the future, though, based on thoughts Buffet revealed about the contest last year.

"I'd like to modify it a little bit so people have an even better shot to win it than they had this year," Buffet said, according to Bleacher Report. "Wait until next year though. I think we're going to come up with something better next year. We'll make it a lot easier to enter. There were some questions that were a little tough, I thought. We'll make it easier to win but I think we'll have an exciting prize."

The billion-dollar contest may have been discontinued this year, but that doesn't mean it's gone forever.


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