March Madness Explained: What is March Madness?
Each year, the NCAA holds its men’s Division I basketball tournament. It is held in March and ultimately determines the sport’s national champion. Because of the tournament’s single-elimination format, there have been some incredible games over the years. The tournament has often been referred to as “madness” and the name just stuck.
The tournament is held over a three-week period and the final winner is declared that year’s national champion. Here is a quick March Madness breakdown of how the tournament works.
– 68 teams are selected to compete in the tournament
– 32 of the 68 teams are selected automatically by winning their conference tournament title
– The remaining 36 teams are given “at large” berths to participate as awarded by the NCAA’s selection committee.
– The tournament is single-elimination. Lose and your team is eliminated.
– The tournament usually begins around mid-March and ends the first week of April.
Where did the term “March Madness” come from?
Surprisingly, the term “March Madness” and its reference to basketball has been around since 1939. An Illinois high school official named Henry V. Porter first coined the term, but it did not find its way into everyday basketball lingo until former CBS sportscaster Brent Musberger used it. Musberger had been a sportswriter in Chicago and knew of Porter using his term “March Madness” while covering the 1982 NCAA tournament. Ever since, the name has become synonymous with the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
When did March Madness start?
The first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament was in 1939, and it has been held every year since.
How are the teams selected?
The 32 Division I conferences each hold an end-of-season tournament. The conference tournament winner is guaranteed an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Ivy League was the last conference to adopt the conference tournament doing so in 2017. No matter where a team finishes during the regular season, it can win its conference tournament and automatically qualify for the NCAA tourney.
The other way a team can make it into the field of 68 teams that play for the national championship is by receiving an at-large bid. Teams that do not win their respective conference tournament can be offered a bid to the tournament by the NCAA’s Selection Committee. The committee takes into account things like a team’s overall record, their strength of schedule, and a variety of other factors to determine if they are worthy of an at-large bid. A total of 36 teams are awarded at-large bids to the tournament.
What happens once the teams are selected?
Along with determining which teams will receive at-large bids, the Selection Committee is also tasked with assigning each team a seed and placement into one of four regions. With the field selected, the seeds awarded, and the matchups finalized; play in the tournament can begin.
How can you participate in March Madness?
The easiest way to participate in March Madness is to fill out a bracket in the Bracket Challenge Game. It’s the official bracket game of the NCAA and opens immediately after the selection committee announced the tournament field on Selection Sunday (March 15).
The brackets lock on Thursday, March 21, before the first game of the first round begins. All picks must be submitted before then. How hard is it to fill out a bracket? Well, it’s not that hard at all, but picking the correct winners can be difficult. No one has ever picked the correct winner in all 67 games, but it’s still fun to try! You can visit the March Madness bracket page for more details.
March Madness Rounds Explained
There are six rounds in the NCAA tournament. If you are going to be involved in filling out a bracket, it is important to understand some of the terminology as it relates to these different rounds.
The First Four
Each year, the selection committee chooses eight teams that must play their way into the final 64 teams. These four games, which are played Tuesday and Wednesday before the start of the tournament on Thursday, are known as the “First Four.”
The First Round, or Round of 64, begins this year on Thursday, March 19, and continues on Friday, March 20. All 64 teams play leaving 32 to continue toward a national championship.
After the First Round, the remaining 32 teams play in the Second Round of the tournament. These games begin on Saturday, March 21, and continue on Sunday, March 22. When the Second Round is complete, only 16 teams remain.
The Third Round of the tournament has come to be known as the Sweet 16. The remaining 16 teams begin play on the tournament’s second weekend. This year, the Sweet 16 begins play on Thursday, March 26, and continues on Friday, March 27.
The fourth round of the tournament is known as the “Elite Eight” and consists of the eight teams remaining after the Sweet 16. The Elite Eight will play this year on Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29.
The national semifinals, which will be played on April 4, are also known as the Final Four. This is the fifth round of the tournament. The Final Four marks the first time in the tournament that teams from different regions meet and play each other.
When it is all said and done, two teams remain and meet in the sixth and final round of the NCAA tournament. This year’s national championship game will be held on Monday night, April 6, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. The winner is crowned the national champion.
Where can I bet on the NCAA Tournament?
There are a number of ways in which you can bet on the NCAA tournament. The office bracket pool has been around for a while and is an easy, informal way to bet on the tournament. Friends, colleagues, office personnel, and others get together and collect a pot of money that is redistributed to a winner or winners based upon how well they filled out their bracket.
More recently, public bracket contests on websites like ESPN and Yahoo! Sports have become popular as have a number of free bracket challenges that offer huge payouts in the very unlikely scenario that someone fills out a perfect bracket. The chances of doing so are near 1:1,000,000,000.
Sports betting has long been legal in Nevada where bettors can place bets with a number of sportsbooks. Recently, several states have legalized sports gambling where bettors can legally bet on games in the NCAA tournament.
Below are the states allowing betting on March Madness:
– New Jersey
– Rhode Island
– West Virginia
Thirty-eight of the nation’s fifty states have some form of legislation on the table to officially legalize sports gambling. States such as Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Indiana, Texas, and Virginia could all potentially legalize sports gambling by next year and begin taking bets on the 2020 NCAA tourney.