NewsLocal News


Billings fans enjoy NCAA tournament, give their take on filling out brackets

Screenshot 2024-03-21 at 11.08.33 PM.png
Posted at 11:26 PM, Mar 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-22 08:16:29-04

BILLINGS - March Madness is officially upon us and the big dance brings out millions of fans each year, looking for the perfect bracket.

More often than not, for even the most die-hard fans, those are busted just a few hours into the first round.

This time of year, nearly everyone is a basketball fan whether your team is in the NCAA tournament or not.

For some filling out the bracket becomes a well-studied process. And for others, it's based on some other idea.

Many enjoy the games and somehow make the right picks.

“She goes, 'Really I don't know any teams,' but she goes, 'I just pick dogs versus cats,'” Kevin Kooistra, Western Heritage Center executive director, said about a co-worker who made the right picks in 2014.

That year, Kooistra says that co-worker picked Connecticut, a 7th seed in the East versus Kentucky, an 8th seed in the Midwest, because she went for the dog and cat mascots.

"None of my teams, really like five or six of them, didn't even make it to the Sweet 16,” Kooistra said. “And that is the year that Connecticut beat Kentucky in the final. So the Huskies beat the Wildcats in the championship game, two of the lowest seeds ever in the championship game at a seven and an eight seed."

Kooistra no longer fills out a bracket and just enjoys the games.

Others do use some basketball knowledge when they fill out their brackets.

"I do one bracket with all my college buddies,” said Todd Buchanan. “It's one of the few times that there's eight or nine of us yakking at each other on texts, blasting each other's picks, roasting each other. It's absolutely the best."

Some of Buchanan's buddies are former Montana State Bobcat basketball players who won the conference title and lost to Syracuse in the first round of the tournament in 1996.

Buchanan is a financial advisor with Buchanan Capital, but he says that doesn't carry over to picking winners on the basketball court.

"I don't look at that as a placement and what I think is going to happen in the future,” Buchanan said. “It's an opportunity to goof off and get together with my buddies"

KTVQ Meteorologist Jason Stiff says forecasting sports can be more difficult than forecasting the weather.

"I enjoy trying to get the forecast right every day and try to get the bracket correct every year,” Stiff said. “It's probably easier to get the forecast right."

But he has seen some success during March Madness.

"There's been many years where I picked the correct team winning the whole thing,” Stiff said. “But I mean a lot of times it ends up being a one seed. So it's like me and a million of my closest friends all getting the same pick right."

Kooistra says the tournament can bring up people's competitiveness and cooperation.

"Sports is a great way to relay those two things at the same time,” Kooistra said. “A team working together, those great upsets that we see in the tournament every year."

"The NCAAs embody the spirit of sport,” Buchanan said. “The enthusiasm, the devotion, the passion both for the team that ends up winning and the team losing. You can't help but get excited."

“Kind of like the Super Bowl, but it's just extended out over several weeks, but it’s a lot of fun," Stiff said.