Fun fact: did you know I’m a huge basketball fan? I love all sports, but especially basketball. I grew up playing, and now I’m a big Houston Rockets fan.
But nothing in basketball beats the buzz of March Madness! In fact, my first year out of college, I won my office March Madness bracket challenge! After that, I co-hosted the annual bracket challenge for my colleagues.
That’s how deep my fandom runs! So to share the excitement, we’ve brought back our sports expert Jayme Lamm of The Blonde Side for a little lesson on March Madness for those who aren’t as familiar with the tournament. Take it away, Jayme!
March Madness 101
By Jayme Lamm of The Blonde Side
There are two things you can be certain of during March: Spring Break and March Madness.
Most people know March Madness as an annual springtime basketball tournament (though many businesses and TV shows have since turned the “bracket challenge” into their personal ad campaigns), but beyond that, their knowledge of the fanatical tournament may be limited.
March Madness is known as the month that college basketball lives for. And even if you don’t follow along closely (or at all), we promise you can still get in on the fun (there are free brackets everywhere online just to play along and have more fun with it).
That’s why we’re getting you ready for the big tourney sharing March Madness 101 and other FAQs:
What is March Madness?
Other than one of the most exciting events in all of sports, March Madness is an annual single-elimination tournament (meaning you lose one game and you’re out) for NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball.
The bracket challenge season is also commonly referred to as “The Big Dance,” and you’ll hear commentators screaming “they’re going dancing” and other nuances. The commentators and announcers are actually one of the things that make March Madness so epic.
Tune in to practically any game and you’ll hear screaming and disbelief and witness some of history’s best buzzer-beaters, upsets and more. My excitement just writing this is palpable – I can’t wait!
The tournament starts with 68 teams that make up the entire bracket, and in the end there’s only one team left standing. Last year North Carolina beat Gonzaga (71-65) giving the Tar Heels their sixth National Title. This year it can be anyone’s game – that’s just a part of the excitement behind the real-life madness on the court, which ends in San Antonio this year.
Selection Sunday is March 11th and it’s when the teams in the tournament are officially announced.
Teams can get into the tourney with either getting an automatic bid (there will be 32 teams to represent all 32 conferences) or teams can receive an at-large bid (which represent the remaining 36 teams), voted on by a committee. These at-large bids help make the tournament exciting and unpredictable (ever heard the reference to a “Cinderella Story?”), often affording the smaller teams (or non-conference champs) a chance to play on the big stage, which is amazing for school spirit and overall excitement.
Selection Sunday doesn’t just determine which teams will “go dancing,” it also determines their seed and first opponent.
Each region (four total) seeds their teams 1 -16, so for instance, the tournament will have four #1 seeds and four #2 seeds and so on. You’ll see a lot of upsets (which result in messed up brackets and angry social media posts by sports experts) in the first round – for instance, a 12-seed beating a 5-seed.
Teams that advance go to the Sweet 16, followed by the Elite 8 (serving as the regional championship game), then the illustrious Final Four (one of the most popular sporting events, like ever, which will be held in San Antonio this year) and finally onto the Championship Game (April 2) to determine who gets bragging rights as National Champions.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how well a team played in regular season, once they lose a game they’re out. So every game matters – yet another thing that makes this such an exciting time in sports and for the schools playing.
March Madness Fun Facts:
-The tournament began in 1939.
-Did you know that no one has ever filled out a perfect bracket? No matter your sports knowledge, what do you have to lose?
-A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed in the history of the tournament.
-There are an estimated 60 million to 100 million brackets filled out every year. (See, we told you it was kind of a big deal!)
-Out of the 47 conferences that have competed in the tournament in its current format, just 15 have winning percentages above .500.
-The ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) is the only conference with 300 tournament wins since ’85.
-The NEC (Northeast Conference) is the only conference with at least 20 appearances and no wins.
-Before the start of the 2018 tournament, 295,980 points have been scored (since playing in its modern format since 1985).
-The highest scoring game came in 1990 when 11-seed Loyola Marymount beat 3-seed Michigan 149-115 for a total of 264 points (which is unheard of in basketball!).
-Since the tournament began, UCLA has the most titles (11), followed by Kentucky (8) and then North Carolina (6).
*Stats via NCAA.com
What about you?
Anyone else feeling bold enough to fill out a bracket? We know Carrie is all about color, so we won’t judge you if you pick your teams based on the most colorful uniforms, or even based on their furry little mascots.
Follow along on social media using #MarchMadness and follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jaymelamm for updates and questions!