March Madness is as fun as it sounds, but it can also be intimidating — Let us guide you through it! To get you even more excited, remember the time that Christian Laettner hit the greatest shot in NCAA Tournament history? Here’s a refresher…
The Basics (Survival Guide)
Where can I find a bracket?
- That’s an easy one, the bracket can be found here.
How does this whole thing work?
Here’s the gist of it: The NCAA Tournament features 68 teams all competing for a shot at the National Championship.
- Eight teams must play in the First Four, aka the play-in games to get 4 wildcard spots on March 18th and 19th to get into the official opening weekend of the tournament.
- This round is technically called the second round and kicks off on with 64 teams on Thursday, March 20 and Friday, March 21. From here, it’s a full on frenzy of basketball, with great games back to back and often at the same time.
- The madness continues in the third round on Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23 as the second round winners move onto their next games.
- By Sunday night, we will be left with 16 teams that will move onto the Sweet Sixteen that kicks off Thursday, March 27 and Friday, March 28 and then onto the Elite Eight that takes place Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30.
- From here, we’ve got your Final Four, which takes place in Arlington, Texas on Saturday, April 5.
- The last two standing will play for the National Championship on Monday, April 7.
What do I really need to know?
- There are four regions (East, West, South and Midwest), and each features 16 teams — a total of 64 (after the play-in games conclude). The way the seeding works is that each region will have a 1 seed through 16 seed. The lower seeds (such as 1) are considered better teams, and the higher seeds (such as 16) are considered worse. In the opening weekend, when the second round games kick off, you can tell who will play by doing simple math — everything adds up to 17 — so 1 plays 16, 8 plays 9, 3 plays 14, etc.
- The seeding is based on a number of factors including record, strength of schedule, and geography. In the NCAA Tournament, anything can happen. Even though a team is seeded higher and better on paper, that doesn’t mean they will win. There’s a reason they call this whole thing mad. While a 1 seed has never lost to a 16 seed (yet), there have been a few cases of 2 seeds losing to 15 seeds, and most years a 12 seed has upset a 5 seed.
- Given all of this information, how do you predict what will happen? That’s the thing — you really can’t. It helps if you live and breathe college hoops, but that doesn’t mean you will necessarily get it right. Something crazy always happens. What’s more exciting than that??
Our Insights (How to Sound like an Expert)
East (New York)
- The East region is definitely not the toughest in the bracket. Don’t get us wrong, there are really good teams, but compared to the other regions, it’s a little bit light. Virginia may be a strong top seed but don’t count out a finally healthy Michigan State team to make a run to the Final Four. Look out for a tough Harvard squad to make a potential run to the Sweet Sixteen and don’t forget about a talented Iowa State (From a very good Big 12 league) playing with something to prove.
- Sweet Sixteen predictions: Memphis, Michigan State, Iowa State, UConn
- The West region has some of the most interesting potential match-ups in the bracket. Arizona is a really good squad but if they meet Oklahoma State in the second round they could be trouble. Nebraska is playing great and could prove to be a Cinderella as an 11 seed. Wisconsin might be slightly overrated as a 2 seed but based on their potential path, it seems unlikely that they’ll have too much trouble reaching the Sweet Sixteen.
- Sweet Sixteen predictions: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wisconsin
- The South region has the overall #1 seed in Florida, but is probably the second toughest side of the bracket. If Joel Embiid gets healthy for Kansas, things could get especially interesting. It’s hard to predict what Syracuse will do — whether they can hit their stride will be a key question.
- Sweet Sixteen predictions: Florida, VCU, Kansas, Dayton
- The Midwest is the toughest region, and by that we mean really tough. Duke, Louisville and Michigan were all in the conversation for 1-seeds in the past week and somehow ended up in the same side of the bracket in the region that has been affectionately called the “bracket of death.” Louisville has been a big topic of conversation as many question how they are such a low seed. Here’s the thing, they didn’t really beat anyone good and were in a very poorly ranked conference. On another note, Wichita State’s reward for going undefeated at 34-0 might be a potential game with a surging Kentucky team. Wait a second, that’s not a reward…
- Sweet Sixteen predictions: Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Texas
The Schedule (Rounds 2&3 — March 20&21 and March 22&23)
Where do I watch?
- The games will be staggered slightly throughout Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will be on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV. You can also watch every game online here.
Round 2 — Must Watch Thursday:
All of the games are great, but here are a few that stand out…
- 6 seed Ohio State v. 11 seed Dayton (March 20th, 12:15pm – CBS)
- 2 seed Wisconsin v. 15 seed American (March 20th, 12:40pm – truTV)
- 5 seed Cincinnati v. 12 seed Harvard (March 20th, 2:10pm – TNT)
- 5 seed Saint Louis v. 12 seed NC State (March 20th, 7:20pm – TNT)
- 4 seed Louisville v. 13 seed Manhattan (March 20th, 9:40pm – TNT)
Round 2 — Must Watch Friday:
Definitely try to catch all of the games, but these could be potentially awesome…
- 3 seed Duke v. 14 seed Mercer (March 21st, 12:15pm – CBS)
- 6 seed Baylor v. 11 seed Nebraska (March 21st, 12:40pm – truTV)
- 3 seed Creighton v. 14 seed La-Lafayette (March 21st, 3:10pm – truTV)
- 8 seed Gonzaga v. 9 seed Oklahoma State (March 21st, 4:40pm – TNT)
- 6 seed UNC v. 11 seed Providence (March 21st, 7:20pm – TNT)
- 8 seed Kentucky v. 9 seed Kansas State (March 21st, 9:40pm – CBS)
- 4 seed UCLA v. 13 seed Tulsa (March 21st, 9:57pm – truTV)
Round 3 — Looking ahead to Saturday and Sunday:
We can’t say for sure but…this year could feature a lot of Cinderellas!
- Depending on who wins, there could be a lot of fun scenarios. There is no doubt that there could be surprises, but having peaking teams like Kentucky and Oklahoma State as 8/9 seeds is not good news for the 1 seeds in each of their brackets. Take our predictions with a grain of salt, sometimes when you predict upsets, all of the top seeds win. On the other hand, if you don’t pick any upsets, you will regret it. Basically, just have fun with your picks!
Our Tips (Do’s and Don’ts)
- Do — Be brave with your picks! If you’re nervous, make a bracket based on logic and one based on your heart.
- Don’t — Pick a 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed (maybe it will happen someday but for now…)
- Do — Pick one 2 seed to lose to a 15 seed (Bold picks can be fun)
- Don’t — Choose based on favorite colors or coolest mascots (get a little more creative than that!)
- Do — Watch the games, it’s exciting to get in on the fun!
- Don’t — Just watch the basketball, pay attention to the phenomenal human interest stories too
- Do — Plan some watch parties with college hoops themed snacks
- Don’t — Forget that a 12 seed often beats a 5 seed
- Do — Enter a bracket challenge!
- Don’t — Miss One Shining Moment — this doesn’t happen until April 7, so don’t worry, we’ll remind you 🙂
Players to Watch (Names to Know)
There’s no doubt new stars will be born, but here are the headliners to keep an eye on…
- Jabari Parker, Duke – Extraordinary freshman phenom and Duke’s best player (amazing to watch)
- Andrew Wiggins, Kansas – Incredible talent and likely top 3 pick in the NBA draft (he’s awesome)
- Aaron Craft, Ohio State – Tough as nails senior guard who has been at Ohio State forever (seriously)
- Joel Embiid, Kansas – Started playing bball at 16 – out with a back injury for the opening weekend (7-footer)
- Shabazz Napier, UConn – One of the best point guards in the country who could carry his team (winner)
- Fred Vanvleet, Wichita State – One of the reasons the Shockers went 34-0 (no turnovers here)
- Nik Stauskas, Michigan – Don’t leave him open for threes – he will hit them (44.5% – high for hoops)
- Marcus Paige, UNC – Smooth point guard who UNC needs to be at his best for his team to go far (clutch)
- Doug McDermott, Creighton – The player of the year candidate is the best scorer in college hoops (coach’s son)
- Russ Smith, Louisville – Ville’s ‘Russdiculous’ leader wants to lead his team to back-to-back titles (2013 champs)
- Rodney Hood, Duke – Duke’s leader and second best player is an offensive dream (he’s the best)
- Melvin Ejim, Iowa State – The Big 12 player of the year is out to prove that Iowa State is legit (they’re good)
- Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State – Center of controversy v. Texas Tech but nothing to debate about his skills (toughness)
- Scottie Wilbekin, Florida – Overcame a suspension to lead Florida to the overall #1 seed (Great senior team)
- Gary Harris, Michigan State – Gifted player on both sides of the court (a la defense and offense)
- Aaron Gordon, Arizona – Another talented freshman who might be an NBA lottery pick (lots of potential)
- Malcolm Brogdon, UVA – Along with teammate Joe Harris, his leadership has led UVA to a top seed (resilient)
- Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin – 7-footer who protects the rim for Wisconsin (All Big Ten 1st team)
- Julius Randle, Kentucky – Best player on Kentucky, and an outstanding rebounder in the paint (powerful)
- Kyle Anderson, UCLA – One of the most difficult players to guard because of his height and skills (smooth)
Talk that Talk (Stories on Stories on Stories!)
NBA All-Stars Thoughts
So you want to win $1 billion dollars…
NBA superstars share their logic and predictions for the brackets
Branding is everything
Basketball is just the beginning of why business loves March
Rock Chalk Duo
The young stars align in Kansas
Kansas is hopeful that freshmen Andrew Wiggins and a hopefully healthy Joel Embiid can lead them to Dallas
Advice from JJ
March Madness is nothing new to JJ Redick
JJ Redick shares his tips on how to pick the perfect bracket for this years NCAA Tournament
That’s all for now — we’ll be back, but for now: GOOD LUCK!