Bracket Background

  • The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (aka The Big Dance) determines college basketball’s champion. The tournament is a single-elimination, winner-take-all deal. Its format has evolved over the years, but here’s a summary of how we arrive at the heart of the matter – The Bracket! The Bracket is where everyone predicts which teams will advance to each round of the tournament.
  • On “Selection Sunday,” or the Sunday before the tournament begins, a selection committee determines the 68 teams that will enter the tournament, their seedings, and the matchups.
  • The “First Four” consists of the first four games, which are held on the following Tuesday and Wednesday. These games are called “play-in games,” because the winners are then included in the Field of 64 – the 64 teams that make up the bracket.
  • The bracket is made up of 4 regions with 16 teams each. The teams in each region are seeded 1 through 16. The selection committee assigned seeds according to how good a team is. 1-seeds go to the best teams, and 16-seeds to the worst.
  • The tournament’s called March Madness because of:
    • The win-or-go-home urgency that every team plays with in every game
    • The dramatic, last second finishes
    • The upsets! The Cinderella teams! The underdogs that advance deep into the tournament and bust everybody’s bracket!

And it’s because of the Madness, that it’s virtually IMPOSSIBLE to pick every single game correctly. There’re too many possible combinations (9,223,372,036,854,780,000 to be exact). This also means that ANYBODY can win the pool! Follow these basic guidelines, and you’ll have as good a shot as anybody.