Embracing March Madness: A Guide to Enjoying the Tournament

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You don’t have to be a basketball fan to know that something special is about to happen. It is a yearly event and millions of people across the country get very excited about a sports tournament that doesn’t feature the best players in the world – or ones that even get paid.

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament (and the women’s version) – better known as March Madness – is one of the most eagerly anticipated sports events of the year and attracts fans from all over, including former presidents. All the best college basketball betting sites have already begun to announce their favorites, and now everyone is waiting for it to begin.

But what if you don’t know much about March Madness? Fear not—we will provide this handy primer to the tournament and its culture. We will let you know everything you need to know about March Madness and how you can get bitten by the college hoops bug as well. 

Why is it Called March Madness?

The basic answer to that question is that the tournament takes place mostly in March, and everyone goes a little nuts about it. The levels of excitement do seem to go through the roof, but the first time the phrase “March Madness” was actually used was in 1939.

Illinois high school official Henry V. Porter used the phrase to describe the new annual tournament, which originally consisted of just eight teams. However, the term wasn’t really associated with the tournament until 1982. A number of lawsuits followed, but the NCAA paid for the rights for its sole use in 2010.

How Many Teams Compete?

March Madness has come a long way since those eight teams battled for the championship in 1939. It could be said that every Division I school basketball program in the country attempts to make it to March Madness. But the actual tournament now consists of 68 teams.

Thirty-two teams are given automatic bids thanks to them winning their respective conference championships. But then there are another 36 that are invited to play. A committee makes those decisions on Selection Sunday – the day when all the competing teams are announced.

Eight teams play in the First Four in four games to whittle the field down to 64 and that is then broken down into four subregionals. Two more rounds narrow the field yet further and then we get to enjoy the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight before the Final Four ultimately determines a national champion.

Complete a Bracket

The easiest way to get involved in March Madness is to do what just about every other college hoops fan in the country does as soon as the 68 teams are announced. Filling in a March Madness bracket (or more than one) has become an annual event for sports fans, and this is a great way to get excited about the tournament.

Once the schedule is known, college basketball fans attempt to predict how the bracket will go. That means they will have a go at deciding which teams will win and progress through the tournament, up to and including the championship game. Obviously, predicting a perfect bracket is just about impossible but it is a great way to get involved with friends, family, and co-workers.

Watch Every Game

Just kidding! There is no way that anyone aside from actual college basketball journalists can be even remotely successful in watching every single March Madness game. For a start, some games are played at the same time. But even if you pay money to one of the broadcasters to be able to watch split-screen multiple games, there are just so many throughout the month.

Part of the excitement of March Madness is that it is a single-game elimination tournament from the very beginning. But with so many teams involved, there are still 67 games in total—63 if you exclude the First Four. Just settle in and watch as many as possible to discover your new favorite team or to support your own alma mater.

Throw a Match Madness Party

You will probably have realized by now that everyone watches March Madness. So, why not make a real event of it and host a March Madness party? If you do have an alma mater competing and keep in touch with your old college buddies, you could make that the basis of the get-together.

But even if you don’t have such a connection with a particular school, you can still use the tournament as a social gathering tool. The latter rounds especially – from Sweet Sixteen onwards – are the best to attract numbers. And the best thing is that you don’t even have to go to too much trouble preparing. Just make sure that there is a big screen, some drinks and some dips.

Everyone gets excited about March Madness

Bigger Than Sports

We have mentioned throughout this guide just how popular March Madness is. It is not an overstatement to say that this is one sports event that has transcended sports entirely. The Super Bowl may just about beat it for reaching parts of the globe that no other single sports event can reach – but this is a month-long affair that grips the nation (including those who know next to nothing about basketball).

Even if you know little about college hoops, March Madness is a perfect excuse to get involved and get carried away with the excitement. You may not have a favorite at the moment, but if you watch this year, we guarantee you will be hooked for life.

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