A Beginner’s Guide to March Madness

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March brings us many exciting days this year …St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover, the start of Daylight Savings….

OK…maybe not.

But perhaps the most exciting holiday of all is the tournament we know as March Madness!!

For those of you who have already filled out your brackets, placed pretend money into the imaginary office pool (because we know you would never gamble at work), and have already commenced trash talking with friends and colleagues, then congrats – you are officially ready for the tournament.

However – if you are relatively new to the world of college basketball, have no particular college or university affiliation or have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about, then I am here to help you navigate the ins and outs of “Tourney Talk”.  Because at this time of year, basketball is life.

Let’s start at the beginning….

March Madness (aka – the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship):

March Madness refers to a series of college basketball games that start mid-March and continues through the very beginning of April.  68 teams from across the nation are selected for the tournament based on conference champions and committee selection in what turns out to be a usual frenzy of excitement and outrage based on who’s invited and who’s snubbed.  Think of the Oscars, except for highly athletic, tall people with mascots…


Once teams are selected, who and where they play is laid out in the bracket form so you can begin the painful process of choosing who will win every game throughout each round of the tournament.  Bracket selection isn’t easy.  Many factors play into who you can select to move up in the tournament…overall record, seeding, loyalty, and luck.  If you listen to the critics, you may choose all of the higher seeded teams to win.  If you live in the Pac-12 Conference territory, there’s a strong chance you may choose all Pac-12 teams to advance.  If you’re a die-hard Arizona Wildcats fan, then you’re going to pick them to win the whole tournament (forget you Kansas…you’re going down!).

March Madness

Totally not picking favorites here.


Seeds are rankings given to teams based on their performance throughout the season.  All the seeded teams are then “planted” into the brackets.  Traditionally, higher seeds compete against lower seeds to start with the idea that the higher seeded teams won’t meet until later in the tournament.  The higher the seed, the more favorable the team is picked to go all the way.  However, sometimes that goes awry with the surprise of….


You’ve poured your heart and soul into your bracket selection only to have your Number 2 seed demolished by Number 16 (still lookin’ at you, Kansas).  This is an example of a Cinderella team – a team who comes from seemingly nowhere only to take over the ball (literally and figuratively) and win the day.

Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four:

These are the names of each tournament level as it progresses.  This is also a great promotional tool for t-shirt vendors who can print new shirts each round your team progresses to ensure they get another $15-$20 out of your pocketbook.  You have to make sure you’re showing the proper team spirit, after all!

So there you have it…some of the basics to get you through the next few weekends of tournament action.  Stay glued to social media and various online news sources to help track your brackets.  Now that you know what to expect, you won’t be surprised to hear random streams of profanity from the cubicle of your normally quiet, state university graduate.  It’s March…so get out there and enjoy the madness!!

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