March Madness is a series of college basketball games held during the month of March. The tournament is formally known as the “NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship”. It is run by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Every year, the NCAA chooses 68 teams during a live conference known as Selection Sunday. The 68 teams are divided into four regions and organized into a single elimination “bracket”. This determines whom the winning team with face next.
Each team is “seeded”, or ranked, within its region. After an initial four games between eight lower-ranked teams, the tournament occurs during the course of three weekends. Lower-ranked teams are placed in the bracket against higher ranked teams.
Each weekend eliminates three quarters of the teams. The last weekend of the Tournament is called “the Final Four”. The Final Four is usually played during the first weekend of April. These four teams (one from each region) then compete in one location for the national championship.
March Madness has been growing in popularity in the United States over the last few years. Many people fill out their own “bracket sheets” to predict the winners of each individual game. Even though sports betting is illegal in many parts of the United States, many places host unofficial “office pools” where the winner receives a prize of some kind. Being able to guess the outcome of every game is very difficult, and a single mistake can throw your entire bracket out the window.
Many sports analysts try to predict the outcomes of the tournament. Although they tend to be right more often then wrong, sometimes a team with low chances makes several big victories. Such a team is called a “Cinderella Team”, owing to the fairy tale of Cinderella. Watching such a team advance in the tournament is a very exciting experience.
Currently, UCLA has the most number of tournament wins (11), with the University of Kentucky second (8 wins). Indiana University and the University of North Carolina are tied for third with 5 wins each. You can read more about the tournament at the NCAA’s official website or a more detailed description of March Madness terminology.