What is March Madness? Explaining NCAA men’s basketball tournament

As March rolls around, many sports fans across the United States gear up for one of the most exciting events in college sports- March Madness. 

With 8 teams, the first March Madness was held in 1939. Oregon became the first tournament champion, beating Ohio State for the crown.

March Madness is basically an informal term referring to the final weeks of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s basketball Championship tournaments, featuring many top schools nationwide.

The tournament is the largest and most prestigious college basketball championship, and teams from the whole country are invited to participate in this mega event.

Why is it called March Madness?

The NCAA tournament is labeled “March madness” because of the occurrence of so many sports, usually all taking place simultaneously, and the excitement swirling around the unpredictable outcomes.

There are upsets and Cinderella stories, as underdog teams often knock off higher-seeded teams to advance in the tournament.

How is March Madness being played?

The NCAA basketball tournament is a single-elimination competition featuring 68 (formerly 64) teams from Division I colleges and universities, competing over a period of three weeks to grab the crown of the National Championship. The teams are chosen based on their performance during the regular season and conference tournaments.

On selection Sunday, the selection committee announces the full NCAA tournament bracket ( teams and seeds). Seeds refer to the placement of a team in the tournament’s regions.

March Madness

Firstly, 32 out of the 68 teams selected are “automatic bids,” meaning they won their conference tournament, and the NCAA Selection Committee gives large bids to the remaining 36 teams.

The real excitement starts from the Round of 64 as 32 games are played over two full days of the tournament, and the winners of these games get the chance to move forward to Round of 32, where 16 games are played over the course of two days.

Based on the games of these two days, only 16 teams, labeled as “Sweet Sixteen,” will advance in the game. After taking a four-day break, these sweet sixteen teams will continue the remaining play the next Saturday.

Only 8 teams, labeled as the “Elite Eight,” will move to the next part of the tournament during the second week of the game.

March Madness

After over two days of games, only 4 teams, the “Final Four,” remain in the game and get the chance to compete for the crown of college basketball. These 4 teams play two matches over three days to get crowned as the national champion.

March Madness Schedule 2023

Selection Sunday: Sunday, March 12
First Four: March 14-15
First round: March 16-17 (ongoing)
Second round: March 18-19
Sweet 16: March 23-24
Elite Eight: March 25-26
Final Four: April 1
NCAA championship game: April 3

Are you excited about March Madness? Which team has impressed you the most until now? You can share your thoughts in the comments.


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Maliha works as a content writer in Sportszion specializing in NFL and NBA. She has completed her graduation and post-graduation, majoring in MIS (Management Information Systems). She loves analyzing sports and keeping fans updated with the latest sport buzzes.


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