What the heck is Bracketology? Here is a quick guide to NCAA March Madness

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For those of you still in the dark about NCAA March Madness, this is one of the biggest, most exciting times of the year in all of college basketball. Here is a breakdown of the terms you will hear and the words you should know before the tournament even begins.

To start, the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, which began in 1939, is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship beginning Tuesday, March 19. The NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament is set up the same way and begins March 22.

Here is some basic terminology you should know for your bracketology success:

Selection Sunday/Monday: March 17th & March 18th. This is when the 68 teams invited to the tournament — a.k.a. “The Big Dance” — are announced.

Automatic bids: The 32 Division I conferences all receive an automatic bid, which they each award to the team that wins the postseason conference tournament. For example, Kansas State is about to enter the Big 12 tournament and whoever wins gets an automatic bid. Regardless of how a team performs during the regular season, they are eligible for postseason play if they can win the conference tournament. These teams are known as automatic qualifiers.

At-large bids: The remaining 32 teams that have to be invited into the tournament based on their performance during the regular season.

The Bracket: Those 64 teams are split into four regions of 16 teams each, each team being ranked, or seeded, 1 through 16. Starting with the No. 1 seed vs. the No.16 seed, teams are matched up with the highest seeds playing the lowest seeds.

Cinderella teams: These are the underdog teams that are not expected to win.

So, when it is time to fill out those brackets, good luck. Everyone has a different strategy for their picks. Some people look at statistics, while others make their choices based on the school colors or mascots. Either way, don’t forget to pick your upsets. Remember, there is a reason the games aren’t played on paper.

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