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March Madness Begins

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If you’re a big college basketball fan like me and others, including many teachers, the best time of the year is March Madness, a term used to describe the NCAA Tournament. Every year, teams from 32 conferences play their hardest to try to make it into the field of 68. If you don’t know how March Madness works, let me explain.

When the regular season ends, most of the 351 teams in the NCAA participate in their conference tournament. Why only most of them? Well, some teams are ineligible due to APR (Advanced Progress Rate) violations, self imposed bans, or reclassification from D2 or D3 to D1.  Some of the 32 conferences take all schools to their conference tournament, and some take a select number. Until this year, the Ivy League did not hold a postseason tournament, but they now take the top four teams. The teams that win their conference tournament receive one of 32 automatic bids. The 36 remaining teams are granted at-large bids.

The NCAA selection committee looks at teams’ RPI, strength of schedule etc. They also seed the field from 1 to 16 in the four regions (East,West, South, Midwest). The last four teams that make it 

in play in what is called the first four, held at Dayton every year. The four winners advance to the round of 64, which is where the madness begins. The rounds of 64 and 32 are played at select sites determined by the NCAA. Some of the games this year are being played in Buffalo. Then, the 16 remaining teams play at their regional sites (commonly called the Sweet Sixteen), and then 16 decreases to the Elite 8. The final four teams then play wherever the championship game is held. This year it is played in Glendale Arizona. The championship game is usually the most watched game.

The greatest part of March Madness is the upsets, when a lower seed beats a higher seed. Every year, people across the nation fill out a bracket and hope that every game is correct. The first and second rounds are on TruTV, CBS, TBS and TNT. The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 are on CBS and TBS (team coverage on other two channels). Every other year, CBS and TBS alternate coverage of the National Championship game, and CBS has coverage this year. The Villanova Wildcats come into March Madness as the defending champs. Who will it be this year?

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March Madness Begins