If you’re a resident girly girl like me, you know very little about sports and often like to keep it that way. But now that March is upon us, you can’t help but keep hearing two words around campus… March Madness and vaguely remember it but can’t quite place it. All you do know is that it does not relate to a shopping event.
So impress that cute crush in PoliSci or bet your boyfriend that you know the meaning of March Madness with a little help from us. Here are 5 things you need to know about the tournament this year:
Why is it called March Madness anyway?
Other than the fact that it starts in March and things can get nuts? The phrase dates to 1939 and was established when Henry V. Porter, the assistant executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association, titled his essay about the state’s annual high school basketball tournament.
Since then, there have been many trademark and licensing lawsuits, but in 2010, the NCAA paid Intersport, a sports and entertainment marketing company, $17 million to obtain sole ownership of the term.
So how many teams play?
Moving on from the brief history lesson… 68 teams from the Division I level compete for the National Championship each year. But the tourney wasn’t always that large. It first started with eight teams way back in the day in 1939. It reached 16 teams in the 50’s, grew to 40 by the 70’s, expanded to 64 by the mid-80’s and finally settled at 68 in 2011.
And how are they selected?
32 teams receive automatic bids just by winning their respective conference championships. The other 36 tournament slots are granted by invitation from the Selection Committee during Selection Sunday.
Huh? I know, it’s hard to keep up. But basically, the Selection Committee consists of athletic directors and commissioners throughout Division I men’s basketball. Their job is to ensure the tournament is represented by conferences around the country.
Selection Sunday is the big day this all goes down. CBS and ESPN broadcast live the teams that the Selection Committee has deemed worthy of participating in the tournament.
People actually have fun watching this?
Yes! And you don’t have to be a die-hard basketball fan to make this fun. Even if you don’t know a lick about the sport like me, I always enjoy filling out a bracket of my best guesses of the winners.
So what’s a bracket? It’s a diagram that represents the order of games in a sports tournament, and is typically used for making predictions about its outcome.
Last year, for example, I choose my alma mater West Virginia to win, but made my other selections based on how cute the mascot was or if the school had a fashionable color scheme.
So don’t be shy, get your girlfriends together for an education lesson and fill out brackets together. Also make wagers! Maybe the loser (the first bracket to bust) has to treat everyone to lunch or Starbucks drink of choice. Hey, even the Prez fills out a bracket for fun, so have a good time with this!
One last thing, how many rounds is this thing?
It’s likely you’ll hear about the tournament well into April. Each round actually has a name. They are:
- The First Round (the Round of 64)
- The Second Round (the Round of 32)
- The Regional Semi-finals aka the “Sweet Sixteen.”
- The Regional Finals aka the “Elite-Eight.”
- The National Semi-finals aka the “Final Four.”
- The National Championship
The first few rounds are typically fun to watch because there is an excellent chance that an underdog team upsets a top pick.
This is where that whole impress your crush or S.O. comes back in. Ask them who they are rooting for and which games you should watch for the highest chance of upset. Maybe even make plans to watch together.
There you have it, ladies. Your inside tips to March Madness. No matter where you go to school or if you are a sports fan there are multiple ways you can become interested and involved in the tournament. So at minimum have some fun with your best gal pals and may the best team win!