Are you ready for this? It’s March Madness! The biggest event in college basketball is here once again. Truthfully, I’m not that perceptive to statistics or brackets, but I do love a good basketball game. I grew up watching games at home with my mother screaming wildly any time the ref missed a call. So since March Madness is fast approaching, I figured I’d take some time to research exactly how the champion is crowned. You can’t exactly be a self-proclaimed basketball lover without knowing a thing or two about March Madness, now can you? If you’re in the same boat as me, hopefully these tips I’ve solicited from the Internet will help us both! Don’t forget to let me know whether this post was a success or if I missed the basket completely in the comments section down below!
March Madness can be easily defined as a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I level. It bears the name “March Madness” because a majority of the tournament takes place in March and the spring months following. The tournament first began in 1939 with only eight teams! It’s obviously grown a lot since then.
The selection process is where it gets a little tricky. The 32 teams in the Division I conferences that are both eligible for postseason play and win their conference tournament, receive an automatic bid to compete in the NCAA tournament. (An athletic conference is just a collection of teams, sometimes from the same geographical region, that compete against one another). The other 36 teams are chosen by a selection team the Sunday before the tournament begins–affectionately referred to as Selection Sunday. A ten-member committee, nominated by their conference, is responsible for selecting, seeding or ranking, and bracketing the remaining teams. There’s not a lot more information on how this selection process works exactly, but I’m sure statistics play a big part. Make sense so far?
The First Four takes place after all the teams have been selected, and it marks the start of the tournament. The eight lowest ranked teams in the tournament play against each other with the four losing teams leaving the competition. This part of the tournament only applies to the men’s teams and was designed as a way to get their 68 teams down to the women’s 64. This way the men’s and women’s tournaments can be played and followed simultaneously.
The second and third rounds move the competition from 64 to 32 teams and 32 to 16 teams, respectively. The 16 remaining teams make up the regional semi-finals, also known as the Sweet Sixteen. Still with me? From here, the Sweet Sixteen is broken up into geographical areas–East, West, South, and Midwest. The winners from the regional semi-finals move on to the regional finals. These eight teams are referred to as the Elite Eight. These teams play each other until we only have four left–making up the national semi-finals teams or the Final Four.
So pretty much the teams just continue playing one another as we move through the bracket. The national finals or the championship game takes place between the last two teams standing. The team that wins takes the March Madness crown!
Duke is a crowd favorite to make it all the way to the Final Four, and likely take the championship, this year–they’re seeded Number One in the East. The West is apparently full of chaos, so no one is confident on who’s going to make to the Final Four from this bunch. Number One seed Gongzaga has had a history of losing the tournament the first weekend in, but has also advanced to a National Championship game before. Up until the Number Seven seed, Nevada, everyone in the wild west wants their shot at that title. So it could be anyone. Despite the biggest upset in NCAA history, Number One seed Virginia is supposed to be a good pick to make it to the Final Four. They’re a stronger team this year, and the competition isn’t as fierce. As for the Midwest, Number One seed North Carolina is a safe pick. If you’re looking for a little gamble, take a look at Number Five seed Auburn.
I have to say after some basic research, it wasn’t too difficult to understand the process of March Madness. Of course, the Internet could’ve completely fooled me, but let’s not sit on that! Thanks to the NCAA official website, several articles on winning team predictions, and of course, everybody’s favorite research source, Wikipedia. See you all next week for another post!