March Madness Explained: An Intro for Beginners To 64-team NCAA basketball tournament

The month of March, otherwise known as the beginning of Spring, is also known for March Madness, a long-awaited sports event that Americans wait for every year. Basically, March Madness is a 64-team NCAA basketball tournament. The tournament usually starts with Sunday night’s selection show that is overcome with emotions from fans who are eagerly waiting for their favorite player to be picked by a strong team.

This process is handled by the NCAA Div. 1 men’s basketball committee. This group of individuals comprises university athletic directors and conference commissioners, and they ensure that the selection process will go smoothly. Let’s go further down the rabbit hole, shall we?

Selection Process

In total, there are 68 men’s teams and 64 women’s teams that have the chance to go and compete in the NCAA tournament. In short, not all of these teams will be allowed to compete. So how does the committee do the selection process? The selection process will happen on the Sunday before the date of the tournament.

Also, during this time, the brackets and seeds will be released to the public. Going to the selection process, there will be 32 teams who will automatically be granted entry to the tournament for winning their conference’s championship. The selection committee will evaluate the remaining teams, and if they passed, they would be granted entry.

The tournament usually runs by using the bracket format. For example, during the “First Four,” eight teams will play against each other, resulting in 4 teams losing, which is then promptly removed from the tournament. The four teams who won will advance to another bracket called “Round of 64.”

After the “First Four,” the “Round of 64” will begin, which are basically 64 teams playing with each other, including the teams who won the “First Four.” The winners will advance to another bracket until, eventually, only two teams remain for the finals.

Now let’s go to seeds. In essence, seeds are committee rankings. Each division has its own set of teams, and they are ranked in descending order, with the first one being the highest in the ranking. The brackets are split up accordingly to these seeds so that the powerhouses will be distributed in the seeds evenly.

First Four

Going back to the “First Four,” it’s referred to the number of games, not the number of teams playing. It’s composed of 8 teams that are in the lowest ranking, and the four losers will be removed from the tournament entirely. Why is this important? The bracket that the NCAA uses only works for a total of 64 teams, so they needed to remove four teams.

Second and Third Rounds

The second and third rounds are pretty understandable. In the second round, the 64 teams will play in 32 brackets in which the winners will advance in the third round, and the losers will be removed from the tournament completely. During the third round, the teams will play in 16 brackets in which the winners will advance in the semi-finals while the losers will be removed.

Semi-finals and Finals

Known as the “Sweet Sixteen,” these are where the final sixteen teams will compete with one another in their respective regional divisions. The regions are divided into four; west, Midwest, east, and south. The regional semi-finals’ winners will then advance to the finals, where only eight teams will remain, which are called the “Elite Eight.” These teams will play against one another until four of them remain.

The Final Four and Championship

After the regional finals, only four of them will remain, which are also called the “Final Four.” This is where peak hype will happen, as many people will start tuning in to watch the games. The “Final Four” will then play until two teams remain. The ChampionshipChampionship will begin, and the winner of the year’s March Madness will emerge.

Why Do a Lot of People Enjoy It?

You can’t call yourself a basketball fan if you don’t know about March Madness. It’s a time where many hopefuls will join the fray to get the title of champion of the current March Madness. The first few rounds are a lot of fun to watch as they are typically fast-paced, not to mention that there is a lot of drama involved like your usual David vs. Goliath and buzzer-beater plays.

It will only get more hyped up as the rounds pass by until the ChampionshipChampionship. Not only that, but the NBA is also scouting for great players in the college division and is looking to recruit some of them to the big league.


So now you have it, the basics. Of course, there is more depth to this tournament, but if you’re a beginner and you don’t know what to expect, we’ve covered pretty much how March Madness usually goes. So give it a try. Maybe after watching the series, you’ll be one of the screaming fans of March Madness the next time March comes around. And if you’re interested in betting on it, on how to bet in March Madness.

Written by Rhian Jones

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