March Madness has officially begun and it’s the hot topic of conversation everywhere. Kicked off at Selection Sunday last week, the 68 teams have been named to compete in the 2015 NCAA Divison I Men’s Basketball Tournament. The “First Four” qualifying round starts March 17, 18, with 8 teams battling for 4 remaining spots, and then it gets going for real Thursday, March 19! If college basketball is not your area of expertise, here are The 10 Things You Need to Know to get in on the conversation!
1. What the heck is bracketology?
When people say they’re “filling out their bracket,” they mean that they are predicting the winner of each game. The odds of picking a perfect bracket are 1 in 9 quintillion. In fact, it’s so improbable that last year Warren Buffet offered $1 billion dollars to the person able to pick the winner of all 64 games. This years bracket is above.
2. First is certainly not the worst.
There are 4 regions and the No.1 seeds for each are Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.
3. Kentucky is looking to make (more) history.
The Wildcats finished the regular season at 31-0 and are only the fourth team ever to go into March Madness undefeated. With 8 national titles under their belt, Kentucky is second to UCLA on the list of most NCAA Tournament Championships.
4. The Big Dance isn’t a performance at halftime. College basketball fans commonly refer to the NCAA Tournament as “The Big Dance” and when a team is selected to play in it, they are said to be “going dancing.” Impress your friends and colleagues by knowing that the term was coined in 1977 by Marquette coach Al Maguire.
Duke’s head coach, Mike Kryzewski, is known as “Coach K” for short. With Duke’s bid to this year’s tourney, Coach K becomes only the 3rd coach in college basketball history to make it to 20 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
6. If college basketball had superlatives, Jay Wright would win Best Dressed.
And now Villanova’s head coach has two trophies to add to his accessory collection after earning the Big East Regular Season title and the Big East Tournament Championship title. The 32-2 Villanova team is said to be one of the most balanced and unselfish teams in college basketball right now.
VILLANOVA HEAD COACH JAY WRIGHT
7. Boys want to be Cinderella too.
Well… not quite. A Cinderella team is one that surprises everyone by making an unexpected run. Last year it was the Dayton Flyers who reached the Elite 8. This year, No.12 Stephen F. Austin University (anyone ever heard of them?) seems to be a favored underdog.
8. Luck of the Irish.
After an unexpectedly impressive regular season, Notre Dame upset Duke in the ACC Tournament semifinals and went on to beat UNC for the title. It was their first conference title in school history and earned them a No.3 seed.
9. You won’t be seeing the Orangemen this year.
A few weeks ago, the NCAA issued a very nasty report about Syracuse University and head coach Jim Boeheim after an investigation into allegations of academic fraud, extra benefits to players, and other corrupt practices. When Syracuse got wind of the NCAA’s investigation, they announced a self-imposed ban on all post-season play. And now they’re faced with 5 years of probation and loss of scholarship money, among other penalties.
10. A lot can change in a year.
Last year’s National Champion, University of Connecticut, didn’t make the cut this year.
AND NOW FOR THE LADIES…
The 2015 Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament kicks off on March 20, 21. It follows the same 64-team format as the men’s tournament. The regional games will be played in Albany, NY, Oklahoma City, OK, Greensboro, NC, and Spokane, WA and will continue until the National Championship game on April 7th in Tampa, FL.
Here are the 10 things you should look out for in the women’s tournament:
The Tigers are 30-0 and the only team to enter this year’s tournament undefeated. With an No.8 seed, they get to brag about earning the highest seed in the Ivy League history. Princeton could very well be the Cinderella team we mentioned yesterday. Fun fact: Barack Obama’s niece plays for Princeton.
2. University of Connecticut
UConn is the reigning national champion, and seeking their third straight tournament title. They are ranked No.1 and don an all-star roster, including Breanna Stewart, the 2014 AP National Player of the Year.
3. Notre Dame
Last year’s runner up is back with a vengeance. Scoring a No.1 seed for 2015, ND has played in past four Final Fours. The Irish are hoping that #5 will be a charm and get them a tournament title.
The Lady Vols, ranked as a No.2 seed this year, hold the record for the most tournament appearances. You’ve probably heard the name Pat Summitt before. She is the former head coach of the Lady Vols and holds the record for most all-time wins for an NCAA coach – that goes for both men and women’s program across all divisions.
5. James Madison
Fresh off a 29-3 season and their second-straight CAA title, the Dukes are looking better than ever. They have a veteran roster, included junior Precious Hall, who averages over 20 points a game.
If No.8 Syracuse can knock off No.9 Nebraska on Friday, they will likely face top-seeded South Carolina in the second round. This has potential to be a great game, since South Carolina only beat Syracuse by four points earlier in the season.
7. Florida State
FSU started the season unranked but slowly made their way into the Top 25. They earned themselves a 2 seed in the tournament, and head coach Sue Semrau was just named a finalist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award.
8. American/St. Francis/Brooklyn/Savannah State
All four of these teams are making their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
This year’s freshman class is presumably one of the most talented group of first-years in women’s college basketball history. Some names to look out for are A’ja Wilson at South Carolina, Kelsey Mitchell at Ohio State, and Mariya Moore at Louisville.
10. Lack of upsets
What is interesting about women’s college basketball is that upsets are rare. No.14 or 15 seed has ever won a game. In 2012, the Final Four was all No. 1 seeds. Here’s to hoping for some interesting match-ups this year!
by Kristen Leen