March Madness

March Madness – Get ready to rumble!

By Jessica Fassnidge
As we enter March in college sports this is an exciting time for basketball fans everywhere. March Madness is one of the biggest events within NCAA Division one college sports across the United States.

What is March Madness?

It is a basketball tournament for NCAA division one men and women basketball players that if the team qualifies for the tournament, they compete to be crowned NCAA Division 1 champion. There are typically 68 teams that take part in the tournament with single elimination rounds, so if you lose, you are knocked out of the tournament. The Men’s side has 68 teams and the Women’s with 62, which make up 7 rounds of the tournament, and the first aim is to reach the ‘Sweet 16’, which as the name suggests is the final 16 teams left in the competition. The next aim is to then reach the ‘Elite 8’ and then the penultimate round (essentially semi-finals) which is the ‘Final Four’. From here you are left with the final four teams who battle it out to make the all-important NCAA championship finals.

How does it work?

Within the Men’s NCAA Division 1 353 teams compete across 32 conferences with the women having 350 teams that compete across 32 conferences. To be in with a chance of getting to the prestigious March Madness tournament there are two ways this can happen. Every conference will hold a post-season tournament so to earn an automatic bid to the championships a team would need to win this. This means if you have a stinker of a regular-season but can win this post-season tournament you are entered into the tournament automatically. A second way to get into the tournament is what is known as an ‘At Large Bid’. This is essentially where the NCAA selection committee meets and decides based on the regular season results who deserves a spot in the tournament and then they will select the final 36 teams. There is not an exact science or formula that determines who these spots go to. However, it still pays to have a great regular season and try to win the regular-season conference as these teams are often selected if they were not to win the post-season tournament. The committee usually looks at many different statistics before making this decision. Once the ‘at large bid’ teams are selected, they will divide the teams into regions and rank them in order from 1-16 with 1 being seen as the best.

In college sports as a whole, they use this seeding system very often. When you are split into regions or a conference tournament your games are based on what position you are seeded. In this case for March Madness, after splitting them regionally, and from 1-16, the games will be based on the process that the team ranked number 1 will play the team ranked number 16. Then the team ranked number 2 will play the team ranked number 15 and so on. Once this has happened the bracket is set to go, and each team will compete in each round to determine who will be progressing onto the next game. Typically doing this means those ranked higher, in theory, should have easier games in the initial stages. In theory and on paper may be one thing, but we have seen many upsets within sports where the underdog can win on any given day and that is what makes the March Madness tournament so exciting!

Creating a bracket

As a player, coach, fan, or just a person who enjoys watching sports, the bracket is a good chance for you to try and predict who you think will be crowned champion at the end of the tournament. There is a separate bracket you can complete for both men’s and women’s sports with an example of what it looks like pictured below. Select a team from each round you think will win, until you have completed all spaces and predicted your winner! To create a bracket yourself, visit ESPN, and give it a go – CLICK HERE.

Did you know? If you were to guess every game correctly this would be known as a ‘Perfect Bracket’. As you can imagine, this has never been done but something everyone is trying to aspire to every year.

2020-2021 season

March Madness fans are excited to get started after the last tournament was canceled due to the pandemic. As we get ready for the 2020-2021 season, take a look at the rankings for both men’s and women’s Top 25 teams within the tournaments below:

Men’s NCAA D1 Rankings:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Baylor
  3. Illinois
  4. Michigan
  5. Iowa
  6. Alabama
  7. Houston
  8. Arkansas
  9. Ohio State
  10. West Virginia
  11. Kansas
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Texas
  14. Villanova
  15. Florida State
  16. Virginia
  17. Creighton
  18. Loyola IL
  19. San Diego State
  20. Purdue
  21. Texas Tech
  22. Colorado
  23. USC
  24. BYU
  25. VA Tech

Women’s NCAA D1 Rankings:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Stanford
  3. NC State
  4. Texas A&M
  5. Baylor
  6. South Carolina
  7. Maryland
  8. Louisville
  9. UCLA
  10. Georgia
  11. Arizona
  12. Indiana
  13. Tennessee
  14. Gonzaga
  15. Arkansas
  16. Michigan
  17. West Virginia
  18. Kentucky
  19. South Florida
  20. Missouri State
  21. Rutgers
  22. Ohio State
  23. Oregon
  24. FGCU
  25. SD State

If you are interested in finding out if you could obtain a scholarship in the USA, be sure to complete our FREE ASSESSMENT. 

Alexander Hauge

American Sports
Concordia University, Ann Arbor

Emma Karamovic

American Sports
Southeastern University, Florida

Hampus Åhlin

American Sports
Tennessee State University

Jonatan Mæhlum

American Sports
Herkimer County Community College, New York