March Madness: Your Guide to College Basketball

March Madness Guide

Happy Monday, Sloanies! Today’s post is a departure from the norm. No London, no royals, no fashion (well, maybe some fashion). Instead we’re giving you the inside scoop on one of the best times of the year in stateside college sports – March Madness. Where does one begin in explaining this phenomenon? Let’s go to the source.

One quick Google search answers it quite eloquently:

March Mad·ness

noun: March Madness; plural noun: March Madnesses
  1. informal
    the time of the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, generally throughout the month of March.

But, dear Sloanies, it’s so much more!

Every March begins the annual NCAA college basketball tournament. This event is months in the making and is the culmination of a season long battle to make it into this elite affair. The college basketball season starts in November and each team’s ultimate goal is to have a record good enough to make it in. It’s a selective process based on records, rankings, and a whole lot of bracketology. Teams can also win a spot in the coveted tourney by winning their conference championships sometimes leaving other well-deserving teams without a spot. Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Let’s back up.

The tournament consists of 68 teams. As we mentioned before some are chosen – 36, to be exact – by a committee based on their performance during the season. How they performed against other high ranking opponents, their strength of schedule, and so forth. There is no advantage for having a stylish uniform yet, but we think perhaps the committee would be open to it in the future. The other 32 are automatic bids based on conference tournament winners. This means that a team who had the worst record in their conference can get in by winning their conference tournament. Let that sit for a minute.

The teams are chosen and announced on Selection Sunday (this was yesterday!). The 68 teams are ranked 1-16 and split up into 4 regions. We know, that does not add up to 68. Eight teams are chosen by the committee to play in a play-in game, also known as the First Four. They’re usually ranked an 11 or lower. These games start tomorrow and end Wednesday evening when the field is narrowed to 64.

After the First Four are played it’s on to the the real fun. The round of 64 starts Thursday, spans 2 days, and is marked by spectacular finishes, huge upsets, and complete blowouts (not of the hair styling kind). If you’re a fan of the game you tend to call in sick to work or take an extended lunch break to catch the action on these two days. We are by no means condoning this, but do what you will, Sloanies. Bonus: this year the Round of 64 starts on St. Patrick’s Day, which means there’s more reason to celebrate!

The excitement of these two days extends into the weekend with the round of 32. In this round there’s still lots of action and the lower ranked teams that upset their opponents in the first round are really put to the test. The field is dwindled down to a mere 16 and then we rest.

The action starts up again Thursday the 24th with the round of 16. This round is named Sweet Sixteen, which we absolutely adore for reasons I’m sure you understand. Teams are vetted once again, and only the winning survive. This is the round where things get really intense and Cinderella Stories of the tournament really take shape.

When Saturday rolls around only 8 teams remain and only 4 will make it to the next round of games. Now that you’re completely invested in this, you’ll clear your social calendar for the following Saturday which is the night of the Final Four match ups. These are sometimes better games than the eventual National Championship game so spend an evening and get completely engrossed.

On Sunday rest and recoup and get your outfit set for Monday night’s championship game. Hopefully you’re still into it because this game is almost always an instant classic.

Now that you’re completely informed on this stateside fun go fill out your bracket and root root root for your team! We’ll be sure to be rooting for ours! Goooo Sloanies!