March Madness 2014: Catch the Fever!

March Madness 2014: Catch the Fever!
  • Opening Intro -

    The calendar has shifted to the third month of the year, what famously is known as March Madness to diehard college hoops fans.


The month brings out a certain fever that will not be eradicated until the first weekend in April, when the NCAA men’s national championship has been decided.

The final games of the regular season are now being played, overlapping with the first conference championship games for the lesser known leagues. Bubble watch, bracketology, and RPI are terms familiar to diehards, what ultimately will determine who gets to play in the tournament that begins on March 18 and will culminate with the national championship on April 7, in Arlington, Texas.

Here is an explanation of some of the key terms related to March Madness:

1. March Madness describes a condition where a person’s focus rests mostly or entirely on talk of men’s college basketball. The signs begin to appear in late Feb. and gradually unfold in the first weeks of March. By Selection Sunday, the fever has reached its zenith where it stays hot for the following three weeks. There is no cure for March Madness, but the treatment is copious amounts of ESPN TV watching and article reading.

2. Bracketology is a made up term coined by Joe Lunardi, now an analyst with ESPN. For years, Lunardi has provided tournament bracket samples as the season advances. What he does is to rank the 68 teams that he thinks will make the tournament, the regional bracket that they’ll play in, and the team’s ranking within that bracket. His “science” is followed by the faithful, people who insist that he has a good handle on the tournament process. Lunardi in fact does have his hand on the tournament pulse, effectively causing early cases of March Madness to break out here and there.

3. Bubble Watch is strongly related to bracketology. In fact, the two go hand in hand. The “bubble” represents the teams that are not quite a shoe-in for the tournament, fence sitters that could move up or down based largely on their recent play and especially on their playing strength over their last 10 games. It is a fluid watch with experts such as Lunardi pronouncing the rise and fall of teams across the country.

4. RPI sounds like the name of a technical school, but it represents the Rating Percentage Index, what is used to base a team’s win-loss record on its strength of schedule. It is useful for determining the teams that will appear in the tournament and also explains why Fab. U can finish at 18-14 and get in while Smalltime U. may miss out at 26-7.

5. Field of 68 describes the number of teams that will play in the tournament. Of the 68, 32 teams will receive automatic bids for winning their respective conference tournament or title. The remaining 36 slots are filled by schools that finished the season well, are competitive, and have strong schedules. First round games feature eight teams vying for four play-in spots to secure the #16 ranking and a shot at playing a top-ranked regional team for certain defeat.

6. Selection Sunday is not a holiday although it may be one in the eyes of some fans. Typically, it is held the third Sunday of March in the early evening and is when the 68 tournament teams are announced as well as their brackets and seedings. It always culminates in five to 10 schools that are ticked off that they weren’t invited as well as surprise by some of a few that were hand-picked by the committee. Just so you know: what the committee says is final.

Fan Pandemonium

The NCAA men’s tournament is big business, with billions of dollars generated through March Madness ticket sales, air travel, hotel stays, food, and related paraphernalia. Billions more is raised through illicit wagering, including in March Madness plagued office pools.

See AlsoMarch Madness and the Run Up to Selection Sunday


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Categories: NCAA Basketball