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March Madness, really good and exciting basketball during a crazy month
Never heard of March Madness? Then you don’t know that this is about a basketball tournament for university teams in the USA. The tournament is also usually called “The Big Dance”. March Madness is just the playoffs of this college league, which actual name is NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. To proclaim yourself a champion, you have to play your way through this madness.
Best in one game – there is only one chance
The tournament is played throughout the month of March each year and the 68 university teams play direct knockout matches against each other. It is therefore best in one match that applies. To be crowned champion of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, one must win 7 games in a row. March Madness is, of course, a huge showcase for getting drafted into the NBA. This has made the basketball tournament hugely attractive, both for the players and the audience, because it is here that you get the chance to see the stars of tomorrow in basketball for the first time. Because of this, March Madness is actually one of the most watched sporting events in the entire United States!
The 68 Universities Playing March Madness
The first thing you should know is that only teams from the first division of the American College League can make it to this tournament. This division consists of more than 350 universities divided into 32 Conferences. And every champion in these Conferences advances directly to The Big Dance. In this way, we get the first 32 university teams that will play the basketball tournament. But that means that there are 36 teams missing, to get a total of 68. The rest of the universities that are honored to participate in March Madness are selected by a Selection Committee. This is something that creates quite a controversy every year because the selection criteria are not entirely clear.
The polemical Selection Committee
The guidelines for selecting these teams are calculated based on classification, ranking, statistics, how tough the team’s schedule was and so on. The Selection Committee consists of 10 basketball experts, and it is they who decide which universities are allowed to play in the tournament. These experts may sometimes invoke “personal opinion” as a criterion, which of course only adds even more fuel to the controversy.
How is the famous March Madness Bracket created?
Once these experts have determined which universities will get a chance to play in the tournament, a schedule must be created. This is where it´s decided whether the road to the final will be difficult or very difficult. Because to get through to the finals, you really need to sweat blood. The same committee seeds the teams from 1 to 68 in 16 different categories, with 4 teams per category. What you achieve with this classification is that you distribute the best teams in different Brackets, so that these cannot face each other at the beginning of the tournament. But wait a minute now…? 16 categories with 4 teams in each … That’s only 64 teams! Then four universities are needed to get 68 teams. This is because there is an initial classification phase where the final eight teams face each other to determine the final four positions in The Bracket.
The last step before the NBA
Only 450 lucky players will get the chance to play in the world’s best basketball league, NBA. And this tournament is absolutely crucial to be able to claim one of these attractive places, or to climb the draft and become among the first players to be selected by the NBA teams. Being highly ranked in the NBA draft may not seem that important. But the fact is that the higher you end up, the better contract you can get. So, the NBA draft is an incredibly important thing for the future basketball stars, there are sacks and sacks of money at stake! This naturally creates a huge competition among the players and the teams during March Madness, which makes the tournament incredibly interesting from a sporting point of view. Every match is extremely important, both for the players and the universities. Reaching the final stages of the tournament, especially the final weekend, is already an achievement by the different universities that take part. Those who manage to win and qualify further, receive financial benefits. March Madness is truly a Big Show, American Style, and this basketball tournament has become a very lucrative business. But the money never trickles all the way through to the real protagonists, the players.
Money – an increasingly important factor in The Big Dance
Something that has created a lot of controversy in recent years is precisely that the protagonists of March Madness, the players, do not receive any compensation from the universities. At least not in a transparent way. And this despite the fact that the number of people watching the tournament is only increasing, with more and more media coverage and greater and greater revenue in terms of TV rights. The excuse used in this case, is that the money the universities earn during The Big Dance is invested in better facilities. In addition, the players are scholarship students, and we are talking about really big, fat scholarships.
Stars today and stars tomorrow
These young players are treated like stars at the universities and evil tongues even claim that there is pressure to raise their academic grades because of this star status. On top of all this, there have been several scandals over the years, with players receiving money or material rewards in an irregular manner. This is something that is strictly prohibited under US federal law. Players may not be professional or receive payments while studying. One of the most common cases of hidden corruption in this March Madness circus, is that the best players choose the university that gives them the most money (in the form of a scholarship). It is a fact recognized by many players who have since become stars in the NBA. Therefore, there are increasing demands for this custom to be regulated and legalized.