For sports fan, March is one of the better months of the year. College basketball teams play a month-long tournament to crown a champion. It’s a classic win-or-go-home, single-elimination format known as the “Final Four.”
The teams play in a regional format to crown four regional champions who then play for the overall national title. It is also known as ΓÇ£The Big DanceΓÇ¥ or more famously as ΓÇ£March MadnessΓÇ¥ because for three weeks in March, madness is exactly what overtakes the sports world, and possibly all your guy friends as they get into the game. Here’s what you need to know to keep conversation alive.
In the summer of 2010 the NCAA expanded the number of teams in the tournament from 65 to 68. Adding these three teams required a format change to the tournament. Rather than one play-in game, there are four play-in games, known as the ΓÇ£First Four.ΓÇ¥ The eight teams that will play are the last four teams to receive at-large bids and the last four teams to qualify via automatic bids.
This past week is known as ΓÇ£Championship Week.ΓÇ¥ Teams have been vying for automatic bids into the NCAA tournament. Automatic bids are granted to the 31 teams that win their conference championship. HereΓÇÖs a list of the conferences so you can really impress the cute guy at the bar (and win a bet for a free drink from him): America East, Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast, Atlantic Sun, Big 12, Big East, Big Sky, Big South, Big Ten, Big West, Colonial Athletic, Conference USA, Horizon League, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Missouri Valley Conference, Mountain West Conference, Northeast Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Pac-10 Conference, Patriot League, Southeastern Conference (SEC), Southern Conference, Southland Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Summit League, Sun Belt Conference, West Coast Conference, and Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
The remaining 37 bids are at-large bids which are given to teams based on their overall record, conference record, non-conference record, wins versus the top 25, schedule strength and conference strength. These slots tend to favor the larger conferences over smaller ones called mid-majors. A mid-major school can have an amazing record with solid non-conference wins but if it doesnΓÇÖt win its tournament and get the automatic bid, thereΓÇÖs a good chance that team will not make the NCAA tournament.
Selection Sunday is the day teams find out if they are going to The Dance: where theyΓÇÖll play at and who theyΓÇÖll play against. Teams chosen to play in the tournament will play in one of four regions: East, Southeast, West, or Southwest. In the main bracket, teams are ranked 1 through 15 with 1 playing the winner of the play-in game, 2-15, 3-14, and so on. A teamΓÇÖs ranking in the tournament and what region that team plays in depends on how that team compares to the other teams selected to play in the tournament.
Once the teams are chosen, Sports Gal will break down which region is the easiest, which the toughest and why; who the favorite is and why; and IΓÇÖll give you my picks for the tournament. IΓÇÖll also provide you entertaining gals out there with a couple of recipes to guarantee a successful party.
Follow me on Twitter at the new name: SportsDivaGal and IΓÇÖll see you at the next play!