March Madness, that time of year when the top 65 college basketball teams in the nation compete in a single-elimination tournament to see who will ultimately attain the title of NCAA Basketball Tournament Champions, is upon the land and everyone is fillingÂ out their bracketÂ (or multiple brackets) in order to prove their knowledge of the game (or win some money/prize).Â MarchÂ MadnessÂ officially began Tuesday evening with the play-in game between Winthrop and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.Â Â But Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s victory set the 64-team field for the 2010 NCAA Men’sÂ Basketball Tournament soÂ bracketologyÂ could begin in earnest and MarchÂ Madness could truly set in. Â
Bracketology is that much talked about study of the much touted road to the Final Four, the pinnacle of college basketball’s season.Â Bracketology is the choosing of the winners of the games, sectioned off into four regions comprised of sixteen teams each, pairing up each successive round in the ‘bracket,’ all the way to the championship game.Â Â
Bracketology begins with the NCAA Selection Committe filling in the remaining 34 slots in the brackets after the 31 automaticÂ bids (the 30 conference tournamentÂ winners and the Ivy League regular season champion, because the Ivy League has no post-season tournament) are placed.Â Teams are placed, or ‘seeded,’Â according to overall records and degree of difficulty of schedule.Â The best teams play the least best teams in ascending-descending order (#1 plays #16, #2 plays #15, etc.).Â
Bracketology is that part of March Madness where it comes down to choice.Â And there are various methods of choosing the bracket.Â Some have a “system,” of which some are difficult and complicated while others are simple or follow an individual’s favorite teams (a “wishful thinking” form of bracketology).Â No two are quite alike but all have the same goal — picking the winner.Â
But picking the winner isn’t an exact science, so many thousands of scenarios are possible.Â But the one thing that remains certain over the years is that the higher seeded teams in the NCAA Basketball Tournament are generally the ones that win and it isn’t uncommon to see the Final Four comprised of teams seeded #3 or higher.
Bracketology is practiced by many, even those of whom doÂ not care about NCAA basketball.Â Why?Â Sometimes it is for the money (office or work pools, tournament parties, etc.).Â Sometimes it is for bragging rights among friends.Â Sometimes it is simply for the fun of picking the winners.Â
But you have to have a bracket to play.
March Madness justÂ isn’t complete without a filled bracket.Â CBS Sports has viewable and printable 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets for the interested, as do many other sports or sports-related websites.Â Â So get in on the March Madness and try your hand at bracketology.Â
Let the games begin…
The first round of the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament begins Thursday, March 18.