In like a lion, out like LeBron! March is here, and for many, March means basketball. College basketball to be exact. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament for Division I (DI) men’s college basketball falls mostly during March, and it has become fondly known as March Madness.
What Is March Madness?
The name March Madness refers to the NCAA DI men’s college basketball tournament. The term was coined in 1939 by Henry Porter, an Illinois basketball official, but it didn’t gain popularity for the NCAA tournament until Brent Musburger, a CBS television announcer, used it in 1982. The tournament began in 1939 with just 8 teams, but it has become a modern-day phenomenon in the past decade.
March Madness Qualifications
March Madness tournament is a single-elimination event involving 68 teams competing for the national championship. There are 2 ways that teams can enter the tournament: automatic and at-large bids. Of 353 teams, there are 32 conferences. The winners of these conferences’ post-season tournaments receive an automatic bid. An at-large bid is granted to 36 teams. The NCAA selection committee determines which teams deserve to participate even if they don’t win their conference tournament, and this is decided towards the end of the regular season. The announcement of the first-round faceoffs has come to be known as Selection Sunday.
Many people participate in the madness by filling out a bracket. Simply put, a bracket is the draw-up of who’s facing who in the tournament. After Selection Sunday, people start to preemptively fill out March Madness brackets trying to guess which teams will make it through and, ultimately, which team will win. The first bracket pool started in 1988 in a Staten Island Bar, and now, millions of brackets are submitted each year. Brackets will only count if they’re submitted before the first game of the tournament.
Whether it’s with family, friends, coworkers, or more, groups tend to get competitive over their brackets, and even make wagers on whose bracket will be closest to correct. The NCAA monitors brackets as well, looking for who gets the closest to the end-all-be-all perfect bracket (guessing every win/loss of the tournament correctly). The odds of choosing the perfect bracket are less than slim to none – about 9.2 quintillions to be exact. The closest someone has gotten is 39 correct guesses.
Will you be participating in the madness? Download your official bracket and join in the basketball fun! But hurry, you must submit your bracket before March 19th to participate.