With millions of viewers, interests in NCAA March Madness vary. Some people watch for the thrill of the games, others do it for the magnificent plays, and most people do it for the brackets. Depending on your interest and commitment to the games, you may already know how March Madness works. Nevertheless, for those looking into how these games work and why it’s such a popular event, keep reading.
March Madness begins with a selection of the teams. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is responsible for organizing the games and selecting the teams. A Selection Committee comprising of 10 members from the association selects 68 teams for the men’s championship and 64 for the women’s championship. The committees are different for each of the tournaments. The first 32 teams are selected automatically after winning their conference tournaments. The members of the selection committee then provide a list of teams that they believe should be included in the tournament and the teams with 8 of the 10 votes get an invitation to March Madness. The Rating Percentage Index (RPI), records against other selected teams, conference and road records, and ranking in the national polls are some of the criteria used in the selection process. The teams are unveiled on Selection Sunday and Selection Monday for the men’s and women’s teams respectively, but the selection process happens a few days prior.
Once selected, the teams are placed in four different geographical regions through the process of seeding. The regions are East, West, Midwest, and South but the women’s tournament is still seeded based on cities. Each of the regions has 18 teams placed according to their ranking in the region with the best team taking the first seed. The Selection Committee makes use of an S-Curve to establish a balance so that none of the teams is at a disadvantage. The teams then play each other within their respective regions until, through the process of elimination, only one team is left. The remaining teams from each region then face off in the Final Four tournament.
Pods are a grouping that designates where each team in the region plays. Although teams may be assigned a pod anywhere in the region, the committee tries to ensure that the teams are as close to home base as possible to minimize the inconvenience and expense.
Brackets are in large part, what has made March Madness so popular. They are predictions, both offline and online that are made by fans about everything from team selection to seeding as well as the outcomes in the games. Bracketology refers to the process of assigning brackets in the games and is part of why it is called March Madness.
It is important to have background information into why NCAA March Madness is what it is today and how the whole thing works. More so, because once the bug bites, it will be impossible to shake off. Those looking to select and follow their brackets or just watch the 2018 March Madness online can do so on NCAA.com, YouTube TV, or any other of the official and third-party broadcasters.