March Madness: A Quick Cheat Sheet to the Prom of College Basketball | A Perfect Engraved Gift
Almost everyone you know looks to be wholly consumed by a thing called “March Madness” creeping in, and maybe you’re a little out of your depth. It’s got over 60 million of us filling out something called brackets every year. If you’re concerned about feeling fish-out-of-water at the next spring barbecue, fret not, we’re in this together. Here we’ll break down one of the most exciting sports events taking place every year.
What’s this madness?
March Madness is just another name for the college basketball tournament hosted by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) every year. Men and women compete in separate categories and separate divisions. Out of all these divisions, your friends at this Madness gathering are most likely watching Division I men’s college basketball, as it is the most prominent and most publicized.
The end goal is to decide the national champions of college basketball. Designed as a single-elimination tournament, this means that a champion must win at least six games in a row in order to take the crown. One loss will automatically take a team out of the running. This is “go big or go home” taken to the letter.
The madness is gaining momentum with the First Four (see below) starting today. The NCAA has already posted the men’s schedule for this year. Let’s break down the process:
In a preliminary period, four teams dubbed the First Four (the lowest-seeded teams, our Cinderellas) are given a chance to be considered for the ball. A team’s outcome would determine whether or not they are extended an invitation to schmooze in what people in college basketball call the “Big Dance”--to be part of the official 64 teams on the field.
During the first two full days, the 64 hand-picked teams sweat it out on their respective courts until they are dramatically cut down to 32 teams.
In the course of the next two days following, 32 teams are trimmed down to 16 to earn their spot on the “Sweet 16” fleet. These 16 teams are then given a four-day break to breathe before being thrown back into the madness.
Sweet 16 is then narrowed down and the remaining teams graduate to the “Elite Eight.” Those eight teams are eventually cut down to the “Final Four.” Bear in mind, any team that has managed to make it this far is only two winning games away from being declared the national champion: already a huge deal for many.
After making it through March, the Final Four then face off in the first week of April during the semifinal round of the Division I men’s tournament where they vie for the coveted crown of college basketball.
If you’re feeling like emotions are running a little high whenever you happen to tune in, that’s because it is. March Madness breeds a high-stakes, high-octane atmosphere that comes seeping out of our TVs.
Everything is on the line: a game could either be a chance to see another day or end in a painful missed opportunity. After all, an underdog team stands a chance at achieving a long-shot “Cinderella-story” upset, raising fury from some people who have their hearts set on big shiny names. Don’t we all love a good Cinderella story?
What’s all this bracket business?
The whole point of a bracket is to guess the order of the 64 teams, all the way to the winner. What people tend to find appealing about it is that it’s a way to organize and separate what they believe to be the best-performing teams from the worst.
Once in a while, there is money on the line. Just last year, for example, we learned that American office workers collectively spent an estimated $2 billion dollars (that’s 70 million separate office betting pools) predicting the winner of the men’s tournament.
Filling a bracket out is now considered a nationwide group activity. You may have felt a little isolated before as a casual sports observer, but the bracket opens up the fun to all of us. Take a look at this year’s bracket with this year’s teams on the NCAA website. It is made readily available for you to print and take along.
One thing you should know is that it is virtually impossible to fill out a perfect bracket, so don’t despair! The odds do not favor you or even your most red-blooded college basketball-loving neighbor. In fact, there is only a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of capturing that elusive bracket.
We hope that this short guide has clarified some of the chaos. In observance of this national frenzy, our office is celebrating with a March Madness kickoff sale. So march on and take 15% off any watch in our popular Zebrawood collection!
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