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March Madness is one of the most exciting sporting events to follow and play along in, as millions of people fill out a bracket every year despite not watching college basketball routinely. It’s a spectacle unlike any other, featuring 60-plus schools in a single-elimination format throughout the country.
Upsets and underdog stories are created in March Madness, with many watching just to follow a Cinderella team. Much like Cinderella’s story, the March Madness event is known as the ‘Big Dance’ where unlikely heroes become legends of the event.
Playing in March Madness is unlike any other sporting event, and here at RYP we have you covered! Whether it’s a squares pool or a bracket pool, RYP can host your March Madness pool where you’re the commissioner and in complete control! Create a March Madness pool or join a free public contest!
What is March Madness?
March Madness is the men’s college basketball tournament for NCAA Division I schools, which currently has 363 schools. The tournament sees 68 schools compete in a single-elimination bracket, where the last school standing is crowned the Men’s College Basketball National Championship winner.
It’s called ‘March Madness’ because the entire event is held in March (although the championship is typically in early April), while the games themselves are absolute chaos. As mentioned, underdog stories thrive in March Madness because of the single-elimination style format. Not only is there no room for error, but the games are spread throughout the country – meaning there is no home-court advantage for most schools.
How Does March Madness Work?
The event technically starts with the First Four games, held on the Tuesday of the week that kick starts the event. However, March Madness begins well before the first tip of the tournament.
Conference tournaments begin at the end of February, in which each conference plays a single-elimination tournament. The winner of each conference tournament receives an automatic bid into March Madness. So despite the March Madness games beginning with the First Four, it’s safe to say that the conference tournaments are a gateway into the national tournament and equally as important.
Also, Selection Sunday is considered to be part of the March Madness tournament for many. Teams that win the conference tournaments already know they are in the field of 68, but they don’t know where they are seeded. Teams that didn’t win conference tournaments also want confirmation they are in the big dance, and that’s where Selection Sunday comes in.
Selection Sunday is the bracket reveal, where schools find out where they are seeded and who they are playing. Once brackets are revealed, most March Madness pools immediately open which is why it’s also considered part of the event.
Seeds are important, as schools can roadmap their potential path to a National Championship. The higher the seed the better, as No. 1’s face No. 16’s in the First Round and No. 8’s face No. 9’s and so on.
After the first two rounds, the tournament enters the Sweet 16 before the quarterfinals which is commonly known as the Elite Eight. The Final Four, or the semifinals, is the penultimate round and is held at the venue in which the National Championship game is held.
How Many Teams and Games are in March Madness?
68 schools are entered into March Madness each year, as the number has actually grown over the years. With the First Four now a permanent part of the March Madness tournament, there are 67 total games played in the event. Without the First Four, the event sees 63 total games.
There are 32 different conferences, and as mentioned before the winners of those conference tournaments are automatically invited to the field. For schools that didn’t win the conference tournaments, the NCAA committee decides which schools make up the remaining 36-field. These schools are known as ‘at large bids’ and typically come from major conferences such as the SEC or Big Ten.
The History: Things to Know about March Madness
The event itself is very old, dating all the way back to 1939 but has seen an insane amount of renovation since then. Seedings didn’t even begin until the late ’70s (1979) when schools would only be ranked within their region. In 2004, the committee began to rank all the schools to let it be known who was the overall No. 1 school.
There were only eight schools in the first tournament as well, as the event didn’t start expanding until 1951. The event began letting more schools in, from 16 in 1951 all the way up to 48 by 1980. It wasn’t until 1985 when it expanded to 64 teams before the First Four was added in 2011 to make it today’s 68 school event.
The Hype: Why is March Madness so Important
The event is important in sports for many reasons, but the amount of revenue it brings in for hosting cities is a great starting point to consider. It also allows casual fans to feel the same excitement hardcore fans feel when watching games. People who don’t like college basketball will still fill out a bracket to compete against friends and family, as March Madness is an event that highlights community and comradery.
Much like the World Cup, the Super Bowl, or the Oscars, this event allows friends and family to play side-by-side regardless of topic knowledge (in this case, college basketball). No matter how knowledgeable one might be in college basketball, it’s virtually impossible to fill out a perfect bracket. Filling out a March Madness bracket is for everyone!
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