By DJ Ramirez |

Time has sprung forward an hour, my allergies are flaring up and temperatures are ranging from the high forties to the high seventies in Texas. That can only one mean one thing ladies and gents: it’s March.

More importantly, if you’re an avid sports fan, that means it’s March Madness season.

I’ve never been much of a basketball fan, but now that I’ve had to cover Baylor basketball games for the school newspaper, I have a new appreciation for the sport. I’ve learned so many things, like what a double-double is, how to read a box score and what effectively counts as a rebound (thanks Taureen Prince). While I will always remain a baseball girl at heart, I have to admit basketball has its charms.

Since both Baylor’s men’s and women’s teams made it into the tournament, I’ve decided to delve into the madness myself and see if this is really “the biggest spectacle of sports.”

Here’s your clueless fan’s guide to March Madness.

So, what is it exactly?

The NCAA’s (National Collegiate Athletics Association) Division I basketball tournament consists of seven rounds of single-elimination games in which 68 college teams compete to win the national title. According to the NCAA’s website, the first tournament was held in 1939 in which just eight teams competed, but since then it has grown into one of the biggest athletic competitions of today.

The term “March Madness” was coined by an Illinois high school official named Henry V. Porter in 1939, but it didn’t catch on until CBS broadcaster and Chicago native Brent Musburger used it in 1982 when covering the tournament.

Selection Sunday

Selection Sunday is when the madness begins. It’s the day when the NCAA’s men’s basketball committee, made up of 10 members, gets together to select and announce the 68 teams that will compete in the tournament. This year Selection Sunday was on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

There are 32 Division I conferences and each one is awarded an automatic bid which is given to the winner of the conference tournament. So even if a team didn’t perform well during the season, they can still get into the national tournament if they perform well in the conference tournament.

The other 36 teams are selected through at-large bids which are based on the way teams performed during the regular season and in their conference.

Seeds

After teams are selected, they are ranked one through 68. Four teams are eliminated in the opening round, known as the First Four. Then the remaining 64 are placed into one of four regions and ranked again from one to 16. Those rankings refer to the teams’ seed. The No.1 seed plays the No. 16, and the rest of the teams are matched in the same way where the higher seeds play against the lower seeds.

Baylor women’s basketball was seeded No.1 overall after winning the Big 12 Championship Tournament. They will play the No. 16 seed Abilene Christian University in the Greensboro region. The men’s team received the No. 9 seed and will play the No. 8 seed Syracuse in the West region.

Bracket Challenge

One of the reasons why the tournament is so popular is because of the bracket challenge. It involves picking the winners of each matchup in the tournament, including the champion. If the bracket matches the results of the matchups, then it’s a winner. The NCAA holds its own bracket challenge but many other sites and TV networks such as ESPN hold their own challenges as well. You could also compete against your friends in your own bracket challenge. Getting a perfect bracket is next to impossible, but Bracket IQ has all the information and advice you need to fill out your bracket.


So that’s all it is really, but the NCAA website  has all this information and more including tournament history and a glossary of March Madness lingo.

All the games will be broadcast on CBS, truTV, TNT and TBS throughout the rest of March, with the Final Four and the Championship game taking place in the beginning of April.  I’m personally so excited to see how far the Bears and Lady Bears make it—hopefully all the way to the Final Four or at least the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight.

So let’s get our heads in the game and get lost in the madness y’all.