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March Madness explained

When March rolls around, college sports take center stage, and everyone is focused on the March Madness basketball.

If you are not familiar with the tournament, then you have come to the right place, as below we outline all you need to know before the 2022 tournament takes place.

What is March Madness?

March Madness is the name given to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

It is a single-elimination tournament, consisting of 68 teams, who are all competing to bring home the National Championship.

Why is it called March Madness?

The time of year it takes place, coupled with the excitement the tournament generates, makes ‘March Madness’ the ideal moniker for the tournament.

It first got this name back in 1939, when Illinois High School official, Henry Porter, referred to the tournament as this.

However, the name only reached the general public’s consciousness when broadcaster Brent Musburger used the term during coverage of the 1982 tournament.

To say that the name has stuck since would be an understatement.

History of the tournament

The first edition of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament took place in 1939. It was a much smaller event back then, with only eight teams taking part. In the final of that inaugural tournament, Oregon defeated Ohio State with a scoreline of 46-33.

The NCAA March Madness competition has taken place every year since, expanding to 64 teams in 1985, and to its current roster of 68 teams in 2011.

March Madness teams

There are two ways to qualify for this elite tournament.

Automatic qualification

Division I Men’s basketball consists of 353 teams.

Each play in one of 32 conferences, with each one of these conferences having a post-season tournament.

If you manage to win one of these tournaments, you automatically qualify for March Madness, regardless of your regular-season form.

This is known as ‘automatic qualification’.

At-large bid

The NCAA selection committee meet before the end of the season to decide the other 36 teams.

They do so by using a range of stats and rankings, picking whom they deem the most worthy competitors.

This is known as qualification through an ‘at-large bid’.

March Madness format


After all the teams are decided, the selection committee ranks each one of them in a process called ‘seeding’.

After which, the teams are divided into four regions, with each one consisting of 16 teams each.

Each one of those teams is ranked, or ‘seeded’, from one to 16.

To reward stronger teams, first-round ties are decided upon seeding, with the strongest side playing the so-called weakest.

Then the second strongest, playing the second weakest, and so on.

Every year, this throws up a few Cinderella stories, which are brilliant for you bettors, who love a winner at long odds.

What is ‘Selection Sunday’?

This is the day when the tournament, field and bracket are announced live on television. This signals the official start of the tournament.

The tournament itself

The first round is an absolute bombshell of sporting fun, as 68 teams take part in 34 games.

Gradually, the field is reduced, with most of the subsequent rounds having catchy titles, including the ‘sweet 16’, ‘elite 8’, ‘final four’ and then finally, ‘the championship’.

March Madness bracket

Every year, fans around the world predict who they think will win every game within the tournament by filling out a ‘March Madness bracket’.

According to an official NCAA video, nobody has ever filled out the perfect bracket, guessing all the results correctly.

If you put your money behind your theories, you could become the first ever person to do this.

If you do so, not only will you get some amazing bragging rights, but you could also become a very wealthy individual.

After all, this is a great event to try your luck on, as March Madness odds always throw up a few surprises.

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Odds updated: May 28, 1:47 AM UTC

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  • Division
  • America East
  • All Divisions
Team Conf W L Pct Home Away Div Ats OU
1 Vermont Vermont 17-1 25 5 .833 14-0 11-5 0-0 16-13-0 17-12-0
2 UMBC UMBC 11-7 16 13 .552 10-4 6-9 0-0 13-15-0 15-13-0
3 Stony Brook Stony Brook 10-8 18 13 .581 13-4 5-9 0-0 12-18-0 19-11-0
4 New Hampshire New Hampshire 10-8 15 12 .556 10-3 5-9 0-0 13-12-0 10-15-0
5 Albany Albany 9-9 13 17 .433 4-9 9-8 0-0 13-15-2 11-19-0
6 Hartford Hartford 9-9 11 19 .367 6-5 5-14 0-0 15-15-0 18-10-2
7 Binghamton Binghamton 8-10 11 16 .407 5-8 6-8 0-0 12-12-1 10-15-0
8 Massachusetts Lowell Massachusetts Lowell 7-11 15 15 .500 9-6 6-9 0-0 14-13-0 11-16-0
9 NJIT NJIT 6-12 11 17 .393 6-8 5-9 0-0 13-14-0 12-15-0
10 Maine Maine 3-15 6 23 .207 5-9 1-14 0-0 12-13-1 16-10-0

Last updated: May 28, 12:47 AM UTC

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