As Selection Sunday nears, teams ready for Madness

Credit: Courtesy of nic antaya via Flickr Wikimedia Commons Credit: Courtesy of nic antaya via Flickr Wikimedia Commons

Well, the time is finally here for everyone to start thinking about their brackets. I know what you’re thinking: Where do I begin? How do I choose my teams? What even is March Madness? Well, worry not, because I am here to help you. If you’re just as clueless as me but decided to try and get involved anyway, we’ll figure this out together.

What is March Madness?

March Madness is the one time of the year that everyone, except for the few people that actually are interested, pretends like they are passionate about college basketball. It’s the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college men’s basketball tournament. Despite having March in the name, the event culminates with the final championship game at the beginning of April. Much like Easter, the date of this game can fluctuate between the end of March and the beginning of April. However, the madness truly does happen in March.

Games are played elimination style and begin with 68 teams. Teams are slowly knocked out until only 16 teams remain. This group, titled the Sweet Sixteen, is often where the casual watcher begins to actually start to pay attention. This continues to the Elite Eight, Final Four, and finally, the championship game resulting in a winner.

Calendar of Events

March 11: Selection Sunday

This is the day that the 68 teams that will compete are chosen. This is also the day where the men’s brackets and seeds, or rankings, are released to the public. Teams are chosen to participate in two ways. The first way is an automatic bid, which is given to the 32 teams that win their conference’s championship. The second option is an at-large bid. These teams are chosen by the selection committee after regular season and conference tournaments based on merit and their performance thus far. This is how the remaining 36 teams are chosen.

March 13–March 14: First Four

These are the first four games of the tournament. They are played between the four lowest seeded automatic bid teams and the four lowest-seeded at-large bid teams. These games are usually played a few days after Selection Sunday and determine which of the eight teams playing will advance to the first round of the tournament.

March 15–March 25: The Madness

This is the time for the rest of the games of the tournament to unfold. Teams go head-to-head until a final four is chosen from the Midwest, West, South, and East Regional games. The Final Four compete on March 31 and April 2.

Teams to Watch

Michigan State University

With a solid effective field goal percentage and the No. 7 defense, Michigan State University is a solid contender in this year’s tournament. The Spartans won 12 straight games since their at home loss to rival University of Michigan on Jan. 13 until their loss to the Wolverines again, last Saturday in the Big Ten tournament. Players such as sophomore point guard Cassius Winston, with the highest percentage of long-range shots in Division I, make this team one to watch.

However, there is some off-court drama with sophomore Miles Bridges and his mother, both of whom are facing federal charges for corruption in college basketball that threatened to interfere with game-play. Despite being cleared, Bridges’ performance has not been as strong since.

Purdue University

As one of the best shooting teams in the country, the Purdue University Boilermakers are a powerhouse team coming into March Madness. They have five players with a 38 percent or higher hit rate outside of the three-point line. Purdue also boasts one of the best Big Ten players, sophomore Carsen Edwards. Seniors Isaac Haas, Vince Edwards, and Dakota Mathias are also strong players averaging at least 12 points per game.

Even if they lose the Big Ten tournament crown to Michigan on Sunday night, this team will still be a force to be reckoned with. After two losses at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Purdue has managed 19 consecutive wins and ranks very highly in offensive and defensive efficiency.

Ohio State University

Another team to watch is the Ohio State University Buckeyes who earlier in the season did not seem to be very favorable or begin with a lot of buzz. After replacing longtime head coach Thad Matta with Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes did not fare well, bringing in only 17 wins and a 7-11 record.

Ohio State has been able to come back by defending well in the three-point arc. This is the one thing they have going for them coming into the tournament. It will be interesting to see how far this solid defense is able to carry them.

March Madness is fun: it allows those with college allegiances to root for their team around the country, and others to turn on the television and choose a team. For players, this is an opportunity to fulfill their dreams, or become a star. Who will be this year’s tournament Cinderella story?

Hopefully, this was helpful for those unfamiliar with March Madness and a good reminder for those who are gearing up for another month of March and the madness that comes with it.