March is one of my favorite months of the year. Winter is finally winding down and the weather is heating up; I’m able to work and play outside more; the days are getting longer; and my favorite part is the NCAA College Basketball Tournament that takes place in mid-late March. If you have never followed or experienced a NCAA basketball tournament or filled out brackets, you are missing out on one of the most exciting sports events of the year. It is now March 2nd and in 2 weeks the teams that will make the tournament will be revealed. This is when the madness really starts up.
College Basketball is fun to watch all year long, but in March is when the games truly matter. Each college belongs to a conference with several other colleges where their sports teams compete with each other. In college basketball at the end of the season (which is in late Feb), the conference tournaments begin. The teams compete within their respective conferences to see who the conference champion will be. In many of the smaller conferences this winner is the only team that will go to the “Big Dance” (nickname for the NCAA tournament). In the larger, more popular conferences, they usually send 3 or 4 teams depending on their records and strength of schedule. All of these teams comprise the field of 65 teams that will make up the tournament. It was 64 teams, but was changed a few years ago to 65, which means there is one game that takes place before the rest of the games that determines which of 2 teams will be part of the field of 64. The 65 teams going to the tournament will be unveiled on Sunday March 15th this year. It is usually the 2nd or 3rd Sunday in March. Like I mentioned above, once these teams are announced on Sunday March 15th at 4pm MST, the madness has officially started.
If you know what brackets are, then you probably have filled them out for an NCAA tournament before. Once the teams are announced a bracket is created. This bracket is posted on all the major sports websites like CBSsports.com, SportsIllusrtated.com, etc… Each year I go in on that Sunday night and print out a few brackets and fill them out with which team I think will win. There are 6 total rounds which take the field of 64 down to a final team which is the NCAA champion. I study and read articles and spend many hours making sure my bracket has all the right picks. I usually join a couple of groups or pools to have a competition to see who gets the most picks right. It makes the games exciting and fun to watch.
The best part about the Madness is that every year there are huge upsets, last second winning shots, “Cinderella” teams that are winning game after game that they aren’t supposed to, overtime games, and all other kinds of things that will drive you mad if you are a sports fan and are watching your bracket slowly go to waste. So roll up your sleeves, sharpen that pencil, and be prepared because the Madness begins in less than 2 weeks.
Here are a couple of clips from game winning baskets over the years in the tournaments to get you excited:
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