So here we are again at the end of March and the main sports topic in March Madness. It’s the time of year when the snow is melting, robins are returning, the sun is out longer in the afternoons, and people go crazy for college basketball brackets even if they haven’t watched a game all winter.
So what is March Madness and how does a team get in? It is the NCAA Division 1 men’s college basketball tournament. There are 68 teams from four regions (East, West, Mid West, and South) who play for the national championship. The seven-round tournament is single-elimination, meaning one loss and you’re out. There are 32 divisions spread out in the four regions of the national conference with about 346 teams in total. They each play their own division championship and the winner gets an automatic bid into the national tournament. Additionally, the 10-person Selection Committee determines on Selection Sunday (appropriately named) the additional 36 teams, out of 129 eligible, that did not get an automatic bid who possess the skills and pedigree to compete in the national tournament. There is a whole science behind this process that I do not completely understand, but know that it has to do with location of the school, winning percentages, opponent winning percentages, and overall scoring and ranking, as well as some subjective things that I cannot explain. It is no wonder why basketball fans and March Madness fanatics go crazy when the brackets, which show who plays who and when, are released by the Selection Committee.
At this point in the tournament, which has been going on since March 17, we are approaching The Sweet Sixteen. That means that there are only sixteen teams remaining and they will play for a spot in the Elite Eight. Again, this is single-elimination and will be played on this Thursday and Friday. The Elite Eight is the regional final that will send two teams from each region, East, West, South, Mid West, ending with four teams left. Those four teams move on compete in the Final Four, which will be played on April 6 and 8th. The four teams left are representing their region in the national championship. The winner of this will be crowned the champion.
Here are a list of the teams that are set to compete in the upcoming Sweet Sixteen:
Gonzaga, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Michigan, Florida State, Virginia, Kentucky, LSU, Purdue, Houston, Auburn, Oregon.
So why are people so crazy for March Madness? College sports always draw a fanatic and loyal crowd. Most Division 1 college football stadiums are larger than professional stadiums and fans spend more on college apparel and gear than professional sports. In regards to March Madness, it’s estimated that the NCAA will make $220 million just in this basketball tournament. That money is made off of tickets sales and team store sales, which is then distributed to the participating teams in amounts depending on how many games they play. The American Gaming Association estimates that there are over 70 million March Madness brackets willed out, with over $9.2 billion gambled on it! Is it that there are that many college basketball fans? Or is it because March Madness falls in between football and baseball season? Or is it spring fever? What is your reason to get pulled into this tournament?
For me, I’m pulling for the Tennessee Volunteers. I don’t watch college basketball at all, but feel the pull to pay attention to March Madness. Tennessee is set to play Purdue on Thursday night and is favored to win. They commit fewer fouls and have a higher shooting percentage than their opponents, and they haven’t won it yet! I always like the underdog.
Is there anyone out there that pays attention to March Madness? Can you share some insight into the tournament? Who is going to win the national title this year?????