News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print


What are you looking forward to the most at West Fest?!


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March Madness hits Normal West: who is your pick to go to the big dance?

It’s March, and that means more than just Spring Break is near.

In fact, to many people, March is a month for madness.

No, we’re not talking about the madness of your English teacher assigning an essay due after Spring Break. Or your PE teacher asking you to run a mile in your first hour class.

We are talking about THE March Madness.

According to March Madness is , “The NCAA Division I men’s [and women’s] basketball tournament[s, which are]… single-elimination tournament[s] of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship.”

These tournaments have penned the nickname “March Madness,” simply due to the increased pressure and drama that comes with each tournament game. It is truly do-or-die for all participants, and it is truly stressful for all viewers.

But with the high stress and pressure also comes the high entertainment value.

Each year, people from all over come together to fill out their individual brackets, hoping that their chosen upset will manifest to be true or for their random ‘Cinderella’ team to begin playing lights out.

Each year, many brackets are busted, some as early as game 1, and others are put through test after test until the National Champion is crowned.

This year’s men’s tournament officially begins tomorrow, March 21 with first round games beginning at 11:15am. The women’s tournament will officially begin on Friday, March 22 at 11:30 am.

Here at Normal West, the bracket-trash-talking has already begun with students and staff alike sharing their predictions and assumed knowledge of the game. That’s why we turned to the staff at West to hear what they have to say about this year’s tournament.

Who do you think will win the Men’s Tournament, and why?

“I think Gonzaga will win the Men’s Tournament because “Gonzaga” is fun to say and because one of my students told me their mascot is a dog of some sort. Also, it’s the only team name I can remember, so there’s that.”  (Mrs. Renchen–English)

“I think the Fighting Illini will win this year because that would be awesome and it’s about time for something exciting to happen around here!” (Seniorita Bernardini–Foreign Language)

“I always use the same strategy when filling out my bracket so the highest ranked Big 10 team always is the overall winner.  I pick the better seed for each match up, unless it’s a Big 10 team then I pick them to win, and I also pick every 12 seed over a 5 seed, unless the 5 seed is a big 10 team.” (Dr. Codron–Normal West Principal)


Who is your “player to watch” in either tournament?

“For the men’s side of the bracket my player to watch would be senior Guard Kevin McCullar Jr. from Kansas Jayhawks. Kevin is well experienced in March Madness and looks to lead his team to a great run. Kevin has battled some injuries this year and needs to shine this tournament to help his team and draft stock! On the women’s side, my player to watch is Freshman Guard from USC, Juju Watkins. Juju is a rare talent, who can score from anywhere on the floor. The 2024 Freshman of the year will look to lead the Trojans to a deep run in the tournament!” (Mr. Thornton–Learning Resource)

“Women’s – obviously Caitlyn Clark and Angel Reese – both for their talent and because of their history in the tournament.  Men’s – if Drake can make a run watch for Tucker Devries.” (Mr. Franz-Business)

“My first husband played for the University of Kentucky and went to the Final Four in 1984.  One of his teammates was James Blackmon.  James’s son – Jalen Blackmon – goes to Stetson.  It’s the first time Stetson has been in the Big Dance. They have a hard seed against UConn but who knows?!?” (Ms. Nichols–IMC)

Who is your prediction to be this year’s “Cinderella” team in either tournament?

“My ‘Cinderella’ team is James Madison, a 12 seed.  They are 31-3 and score a ton of points.  They will give Wisconsin all they can handle in the first round!” (Mr. Hoder-English)

“The Grand Canyon Antelopes in the men’s tournament.  In addition to having a sweet nickname and incredible facilities, they are coached by a coaching legend’s son and have been hot as of late!” (Mr. Franz–Business)


What are you most excited for with this year’s tournament?

“How balanced the men’s tournament will be and how Caitlyn Clark has elevated the popularity of the women’s game.  This is one of those times that you are witnessing history witih Caitlin Clark and a lot of times we don’t step back and appreciate those types of things.” (Mr. Franz–Business)

“I am looking forward to watching Caitlin Clark from Iowa and hope both her and her team do well. I love what is happening with the interest for Women’s basketball because of her impact. I am interested in what LSU and UCONN do without being a 1 seed this year…I think they will feel like they have something to prove and could be dangerous.” (Dr. Codron–Normal West Principal)


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