It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (for sports fans that is!) As any sports fan knows, Tuesday kicked off the start of March Madness, aka ‘The Big Dance,’ aka the NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Tournament. The tournament, which will run for a few weeks, features 68 Division 1 college basketball teams from the NCAA. Sports fans everywhere place bets on which teams they think will win and who will progress to the final Championship game. If you are unfamiliar with how it works, I will break it down. Each team is “seeded,” or ranked, within its region from 1 to 16, and then each team plays against another team according to a pre-determined bracket. 1 gets the best advantage by starting against the 16th ranking team, 2 goes against 15, etc. etc. It is a single-elimination tournament, meaning that the losing team in each bracket will be immediately eliminated from the competition. Four teams will make it to the National Championship, with one team representing South, East, West, and Midwest respectively.
As an LA native, I am proud to say that UCLA currently holds the record for the most wins, with 11 national titles to its name! This is largely due to the coaching of John Wooden, who has coached the team in 10 of their 11 wins throughout the years. This year, the four teams named the No. 1 picks for each region were Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga, but it really could be anyone’s game, which is what makes the whole thing so exciting! Among the predictions are the so-called ‘Cinderella’ teams, which are the teams that fall somewhere in the middle of the rankings, but have a chance of overcoming the odds and taking the title. In 1985, the Villanova Wildcats, who were ranked 8th overcame all odds by defeating Patrick Ewing in one of the greatest upsets in sports history! In 1983, North Carolina State‘s Dereck Whittenburg launched a shot that was about to fall short, when Lorenzo Charles came from nowhere to complete the shot, just as the clock struck zero. It is these stories that make March Madness so much fun and the reason why so many people watch and participate religiously.
Some of the predicted ‘Cinderella’ teams to look out for this year are the Rhode Island Rams, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, Wilmington NC, and Florida Gulf Coast, to name just a few. If you would like to follow along, you can get a copy of this year’s bracket at brackets.usatoday.com. The final event will be The National Championship, which will be held April 3rd in Phoenix, AZ. You can watch it or stream it from CBS, truTV, TNT, TBS, ncaa.com, and the NCAA March Madness Live app.