From the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide to the world’s largest elections in India, to UConn’s NCAA victory and millions of tulips in bloom in Amsterdam, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.
Every year, only one team in the NCAA Tournament can walk away with the National Championship, leaving 67 losing squads in its wake. See the pain of a season-ending loss
College basketball's chaotic tournament produces some strange moments. These are 10 of the best
Since Obama bombed his bracket, see how the pro predictors are calling the shots
The final rounds of the Big Dance tip off Saturday in Dallas with Florida playing UConn at 6:09pm and Wisconsin taking on Kentucky at 8:49pm. Kentucky’s thrilling upset over Michigan makes the 8-seed one to watch. And while Florida has only lost two games this season, one of those losses was to the team it’s now up against. The other? To Wisconsin. See who the favorites are below.
FiveThirtyEight and Nate Silver
The lead data-cruncher has Florida favored over Connecticut and Wisconsin over Kentucky with Florida winning it all. Silver, who called the 2012 Presidential election correctly, also accurately predicted Louisville as last year’s tournament champ.
The magazine’s new issue might be cursing Kentucky by putting the team on its cover. The issue puts Kentucky and Florida in the finals with the overall estimate that Billy Donovan will bring home his third ring for the Gators.
ESPN’s Top Bracket
ESPN’s current bracket leader mike_opheim24 (who has 10 different brackets) earned a perfect prediction score for the Elite Eight. For this weekend’s match up, he has Florida and Kentucky meeting on Monday ending with the Wildcats cutting down the net.
Warren Buffett Bracket
Though nobody won Warren Buffett’s billion-dollar bracket challenge, the top scorer thus far puts Florida and Kentucky in the finals game, predicting Florida will win 72-64.
Police arrested 15 unruly fans and shot pepper spray at crowds after Arizona's overtime loss to Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament. Authorities who arrived on the scene were met with flying beer bottles, cans and firecrackers from the crowd
Tuscon police arrested 15 people and used pepper spray on rowdy fans following the Arizona Wildcats’ NCAA tournament loss, police said.
Arizona lost in overtime to the Wisconsin Badgers 64-63 in the West Region final Saturday in Anaheim. Crowds leaving Tuscon bars and restaurants after watching their team’s narrow defeat didn’t disperse from the area despite police orders to do so, the Associated Press reports.
Police cruisers and baton-wielding officers that arrived on the scene were soon met with flying beer bottles, cans and firecrackers from the crowd.
Of the 15 people arrested in the fracas, 14 have been released.
Andy Barr and John Yarmuth are betting some home-state product on Friday night's big game
Kentuckians know they have two world-class products: bourbon and basketball. So it’s only fitting that freshman Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican who represents Lexington, and Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who represents Louisville, bet several bottles of bourbon on Friday’s Sweet 16 matchup between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.
The in-state rivalry between the two hard-court titans was cemented in 1983 when the “Dream Game”—an epic, Elite 8 overtime clash in which Louisville beat Kentucky—drove the state general assembly to mandate a non-conference matchup each and every year. Since then, the game has forged Bluegrass bragging rights, pumped up over the past few years with a Kentucky championship in 2012 and a Louisville championship last year.
“College basketball is king to the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Barr tells TIME. “Even [Louisville and former Kentucky] Coach [Rick] Pitino once said that the University of Kentucky is the Roman empire of college basketball.”
Both members have considerable knowledge of the game, common for the towns in which they grew up in and now represent.
“A lot is on the line here in the Sweet 16, but I like Kentucky’s chances based on our size, our talent, and the way we’ve been playing recently,” Barr says. “Julius Randle is absolutely unstoppable,” he adds, referring to the 6’9, 250-pound freshman who is considered by many analysts to be one of the top players in the 2013 class. “He is a force. I don’t care if he is double teamed or triple teamed, you can’t stop Julius Randle. You can only hope to contain him.”
Yarmuth, who will attend the game on behalf of his former employer Louisville, understands that his team, which lost to Kentucky in December, has some challenges despite being the favorite. “It’s a huge size disadvantage,” Yarmuth tells TIME. “It’s not a great matchup for us.”
But he believes his team can still pull out the victory. “We have to hit a reasonable percentage of three pointers to win,” Yarmuth says, putting on his ESPN commentator cap. “You’ve got senior leadership,” he adds. “We lead the country in margin of victory, turnover margin—we’re at the top in both offense and defense efficiency. We beat Connecticut three times pretty easily, and Connecticut is still in the tournament.”
Yarmuth says that Coach Pitino can give the Cardinals the edge. “Give him five days to prepare—particularly for a [Kentucky] team that’s very inexperienced and doesn’t really have much of an offense,” Yarmuth says. “We can really cause them fits.”
Whoever wins will be a happy man, and the recipient of several bottles of Kentucky’s finest bourbon—including Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve (Yarmuth’s “default bourbon”), Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Town Branch, Barrel House and Jim Beam.
The game starts at 9:45 p.m. EST on Friday.
While the two lawmakers have clear biases, Sente Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—who was student body president at Louisville as an undergrad and president of the Student Bar association while at Kentucky’s law school—has had some difficulty choosing sides. “You know, I didn’t get this far in my line of work by answering questions like that,” McConnell said Tuesday of the rivalry, with a soft chuckle. “That is the hottest issue in our state.”
McConnell had an embarrassing flub when his campaign released an ad this week—he is in a fiercely contested election battle with Kentucky’s Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes—that accidentally included a clip of Duke’s 2010 championship instead of Kentucky’s. Matt Bevin, McConnell’s primary challenger, has poked fun at the mistake, releasing an ad on Thursday showing McConnell in a Duke uniform.
“Most folks in Kentucky are either Louisville or Kentucky fans—there are not a lot of Kentuckians who are both,” says Barr, who calls himself a “diehard member of the Big Blue nation. … But it is a source of pride for even Kentucky fans to know that we’ve got two great national powerhouse basketball teams.”
A brief explainer regarding what makes the Stanford Band truly unique
The Stanford band has a saying that the band always wins. Unfortunately Stanford’s male basketball team didn’t have the same mantra in Thursday’s Sweet 16 game.
While the Cardinal’s reign was cut short, the band is continuing its moment of internet notoriety for its irreverent persona. Band members went viral earlier this week for false rumors of smuggled alcohol via tubas and this masterpiece of raw human emotion:
A fascinated Jimmy Kimmel even flew out Alex Chang, the 22-year-old engineering major, to enthusiastically play the cowbell with his late night band.
Every so often, the world gets a quick glimpse at the irreverent madness that is the fishermen hat donning Stanford band and is surprised by how dissimilar they are to their stiffly choreographed, wind-up marching band doll counterparts. To Stanford students, the weird quirks, costumes (or lack thereof.. they notoriously embrace nudity), and antics are a prerequisite for band members (disclosure: I’m a Stanford alum).
“If you’re weird, that’s celebrated that’s the norm,” Nicoletta von Heidegger, the infamous Tree mascot from 2012-13, told TIME. “And there’s always someone weirder than you are.”
But Will Funk, who currently plays the Tree, says that this weirdness often confuses onlookers. “People come up to me all the time and are just like, ‘Why?'” the 20-year-old Science Technology and Society major said. Thus, to clear up any confusion, here is a brief explainer regarding what makes the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) truly unique:
Musical talent isn’t required
Kimmel asked Chang, a self-identified percussionist, if playing the cowbell was a demotion. This is a silly question since the band doesn’t require anyone to know how to play any instrument. Non-musicians who join the 150 person group get thrown something to bang on or blow into. This lends itself to a drumline made up of football helmets, high chairs, and a literal kitchen sink. “My mom’s favorite is the stop signs,” Funk said.
They wear everything… and nothing
My first memory of the Stanford band as a student involved a lot of nudity. But they also embrace “rally gear” and go to games in attention grabbing costumes.
These costumes can get them in trouble. Like at Notre Dame in 1991, when the drum major dressed as a nun and conducted the band with a cross (while “pregnant”), and again in 1997 when a band members dressed as a Cardinal and the devil had a fight on the field.
They are a marching band that doesn’t march
As of 1963, they became a “scatter” band. That means they run wildly to form ridiculous shapes—like the Snapchat logo during the 2014 Rose Bowl—to ridiculous scripts.
This provides a hilarious juxtaposition to more militaristic bands.
They sometimes take things a little too far
Stanford couldn’t go back to BYU after a 2004 halftime show, in which the band manager proposed to all five Dollies (the band’s dancers) as the announcer celebrated the “sacred bond that exists between a man and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman.” The governor of Oregon even tried to get Stanford banned from the state after the band did a 1990 halftime show criticizing the logging industry for ruining the spotted owl’s habitat.
Things have tamed down since the days when the band drove a white Ford Bronco with bloody handprints around the Stanford Stadium track in 1994 in a game against USC—earlier that season some members played The Zombies’ She’s Not There outside the L.A. County Courthouse during jury selection for the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The band has adjusted and become less caustic in recent years. For the 2013 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, for example, the “scatter” routine consisted of cheese jokes.
Band members have ridiculous nicknames
Band members with nicknames like “Big Dickosaurus,” “Bollox” and “Donkey Fluffer” competed for the coveted role of Stanford Tree when I was on campus.
Some people literally eat live snakes to become the Tree mascot
The process to become the high profile Stanford Tree, in which ambitious students compete for the band and campus’ approval during “Tree Week” is truly insane.
Von Heidegger won her post by galloping through campus on horseback, constructing a giant 24 by 14 ft seasaw, playing a game of human Pac Man (ghosts tackled her), and “playing a game of lube wrestling on one of the lawns on a day that happened to coincide with parents weekend,” she said. “It was probably a poor choice on my side.”
Funk, the current tree, did a strip tease down to a thong in one of the main fountains, “and I had friends pour different liquids on myself like water, ice, milk, people threw eggs on me which I washed off with old nasty beer and two jugs of maple syrup.” Urine might have also been involved in the process.
And that’s just the start of it. While I was at Stanford, one nominee drank a Bloody Mary made out of his own blood. One nominee had a friend waterboard him in public—he was running on a human rights ticket. A friend was disqualified for eating a live snake to prove his worth. The few rules include no fire, no electrocution, to excessive bodily harm, and nothing illegal.
The band always wins
Regardless of the outcome of March Madness, or any game, LSJUMB has a saying that the band always wins.
UPDATE: This story was revised to reflect the the result of Thursday’s game.
Disclosure: The writer attended Stanford University.
We asked a mathematician to run the numbers one more time, and everything came up blue and gold
In case it weren’t already clear from the astronomical odds (9.2. quintillion-to-1 if you were to pick entirely randomly), filling out the perfect March Madness bracket is an exercise in futility. And once that first game begins, everyone’s brackets are locked and all anyone with skin in the game can do is cross their fingers and hope their pick pays off.
With the money already on the table, it’s rare that prognosticators crunch the numbers again after the tournament’s opening weekend. But there’s no reason you can’t. So as the games resume, we put the question to Tim Chartier, a mathematics professor at Davidson College. Since 2009, Chartier has taught a course that instructs students in the art and science of bracketology. Last year, one of his students, Jane Gribble, a math major and member of Davidson’s cheerleading squad, used what’s known as the Massey method, which incorporates point differential as well as wins and losses into the algorithm, to finish in the 96th percentile of ESPN’s bracket challenge. The formula also correctly predicted that Louisville would win it all.
Not bad. So we asked Chartier to run the numbers again — this time incorporating the results of the tournament’s early rounds — to try and gauge who will emerge from the Sweet 16 to win it all. His verdict: The UCLA Bruins are most likely to win the April 7 National Championship game.
Turns out incorporating the tournament games was crucial. “You massively down-weight home wins,” Chartier says, explaining why UCLA emerged ahead of higher-seeded teams with better regular season records. “At this point, your ability to win at home isn’t as important.” Though the statistical methods for picking winners is virtually limitless (and you can even explore some of your own), UCLA came up as the eventual winner for several of Chartier’s models.
If UCLA’s title hopes still seem like a long-shot, it’s understandable. The Bruins will need to claw their way through top-seeded Florida (currently on a 28-game winning streak) and either Virginia or Michigan St. (Chartier’s data says Virginia) before reaching Arizona or Louisville (the professor’s numbers have the Wildcats by a hair) in the final. But the Bruins have been on a tear lately, edging out Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game and handily winning their first two tournament games thanks to stifling defense and the strong play of sophomores Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson, who have averaged a combined 32 ppg this season.
And even the best algorithms, as Chartier is the first to note, are no substitute for a crystal ball. Very slim margins separate the tournament’s top teams and crazy things are known to happen. But sports fans are naturally inclined to hope. And the data offers plenty of reasons for UCLA to feel good about their chances.
Fourteenth-seeded Mercer pulled off the biggest upset in the NCAA tournament so far by knocking off 3rd-seeded Duke 78-71. Here's what that says about March Madness
Of course 14th-seeded Mercer beat 3rd-seeded Duke on Friday afternoon, 78-71, during the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament. The Bears, you see, are a college basketball team. As in, the players stay in college, and play basketball. Mercer, located in Macon, Ga., has five senior starters. Duke has one senior, three sophomores, and a one-and-done freshman in the starting lineup. The Blue Devils, at this point, are just another basketball factory, where insanely-hyped stars buy time, before buying much more with their NBA paychecks.
In 2011, Kyrie Irving left Duke after an injury-plagued freshman season. In 2012, Austin Rivers—son of Doc, the Clippers coach—was one-and-done. And now Jabari Parker, a bona-fide NBA star prospect, likely just played his final college game, despite some whispers he may stay one more season. He’ll beat the Knicks next year. But he lost to Mercer.
For Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, there’s another problem with this NBA assembly line model. He hasn’t proven he can run it very well. Krzyzewski, you are no John Calipari.
Lehigh bounced Coach K out of the tournament two years ago, and now Mercer busted the bracket. This isn’t a way a Hall-of-Famer ends his legendary career. Krzyzewski is 67, and won’t leave the college sideline. He’s still got the Olympics gig—he’s coaching through Rio, in 2016. John Wooden won a title in his final year. Krzyzewski won’t leave the game as the guy who loses to the Lehighs and Mercers.
Here’s a fair question: is Coach K too stretched? Are the Olympics, and World Championships, and Team USA camps distracting him from his Duke day job? Probably not. After all, Duke did win the 2010 national title—are we positive Gordon Hayward’s heave didn’t fall?—after Coach K won his first gold medal, in Beijing. They’ve been a fine regular season team.
For the tournament, however, he’s the wrong coach for the wrong era. In a win-or-go-home scenario, who do you want on the court? The heavily-recruited freshman and sophomores, cobbled together, or the upperclassmen with telepathic tendencies that can only come with time. My eyes move this way: boom, you know where to go. The Mercers, the Butler teams that made the Final Four—they have this rare basketball gift.
The Mercer win says even more about coaching. Mercer’s Bob Hoffman coached the pants of Krzyzewski. Down the stretch, he made chess moves on defense that gave Duke shooters fits. Mike Krzyzewski is a Hall-of-Famer, winner of four national titles, two gold medals, and pulling in $7 million a year, at least. Hoffman is well, a guy named Bob Hoffman, not making nearly as much. The best basketball coaches are often the ones who make the least. They’re scattered across the country, in high schools, junior colleges, Division III institutions. If Coach K has humility, and I think he does, he’d be the first to admit: “Big-name” coaches, like himself, are most often ridiculously overrated, and overpaid.
For the Duke haters, today is more manna: enjoy. (I’m not among them. Not a rabid fan or anything, but I admire the winning, respect Coach K’s accomplishments, and really like some of players who have come out of the program. Forget Christian Laettner. Don’t forget Grant Hill, or Bobby Hurley, or Shane Battier or Jay Williams). But instead of celebrating Duke’s loss, let’s go nutso over Mercer’s win. Yes, a 2014 Cinderella is locked in. Maybe Mercer is another Florida Gulf Coast—the Bears play in the same conference as those darlings of Dunk City, the Atlantic Sun. The players did goofy dances afterwards, just like Florida Gulf Coast. “I don’t know who’s beating us?!” a delirious Hoffman screamed afterwards.
Good luck to anyone trying. You’ll need it. Because Mercer is today’s March Madness.
The NCAA tournament is a bonanza for America's gambling capital. Here are five reasons why March Madness is especially crazy in Sin City
The Super Bowl is an undeniably huge day for wagering in Las Vegas. But it’s just a single game, on a single day. March Madness, on the other hand, features dozens of games spread over several weeks.
Here are a few reasons why pretty much every business in Las Vegas gets extra excited when NCAA men’s basketball tournament time rolls each year:
Hotels are absolutely jammed. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, during the first weekend of March Madness in 2013, Sin City hotels were 97.7% full. Hotel occupancy stood at a mere 86% for the 2014 Super Bowl, by contrast.
The Madness woos record-setting crowds. Thanks largely to the NCAA basketball tournament, 3.54 million visitors hit Vegas in March 2013, the best month ever. That record is expected to be broken this March in Las Vegas.
Fans fork over big bucks. At the ultra-high-end sports bar Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo, patrons pay $300 for a day’s worth of food, booze, and game watching, and hundreds of fans reserve their spots months in advance. That’s actually cheap compared to a viewing-dining-drinking package at Carmine’s inside Caesars Palace, highlighted recently by Vegas Chatter. The package includes “TVs, video games, comfy recliners, and a beer pong table,” as well as an “all day feast of family style Italian favorites,” all for a mere … $50,000. The price covers 25 people, so $2K per person.
There are a bajillion bets to be made. The Super Bowl is one game. Sure, there are dozens of prop bets related to the game every year—like whether or not Beyonce would show cleavage during her 2013 halftime performance—but the dozens and dozens of matchups in March Madness brackets bring with them an enormous multitude of betting scenarios. Beyond picking winners, over-unders, and whatnot, this year’s tournament also comes with its own share of prop bets, including the largest margin of victory by any team in round one (32.5 points) and how many game-winning buzzer beaters there will be.
How much is bet on March Madness in Las Vegas? Estimates are all over the map, but they’re all big. A Dallas Morning News story offered numbers ranging from $90 million to $227 million wagered in Vegas last year on the tournament. MGM Resorts International executive Jay Rood told the Review-Journal that Vegas sports books would take in $200 million in bets just during the first four days of 2014 tournament. “You have four mini-Super Bowls,” he said.
It’s spread over a long time period. Again, the Super Bowl is one game, played on a single day. Tourists who want to experience the Super Bowl in Vegas may make a weekend of it, but visitors hitting the city for March Madness are far more likely to come and experience four days’ worth of games this weekend. Next weekend, more visitors are likely to do the same. And there’s still one more weekend after that for the tournament, when the final four of “March Madness” will actually take place in early April. They all represent huge influxes of crowds eager to meet up with college buddies, gamble, eat, drink, and, oh yeah, watch some basketball.
Given all the attention—and money—drawn to Vegas for the tournament, it’s understandable that some others want in on the action. Like folks in New Jersey. A group of state lawmakers just so happens to be using the tipoff of March Madness 2014 as the moment to argue that Atlantic City should be allowed to offer sports betting.
“They have it in Vegas and the rooms are overbooked,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said recently near the Atlantic City boardwalk, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s a $12 billion a year underground industry. Much of it is done illegally. Let’s legalize it.”