What Is March Madness: An Explanation For Europeans To Understand

March Madness is a uniquely American sporting occasion where the best college basketball teams battle it out to win a coveted championship. If you’re intrigued by this tournament but don’t know much about it, what do you need to know to understand everything? Let’s take a look at what it’s all about and how you can enjoy it.

The Basic Details

Officially known as the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, this is a single-elimination tournament which 68 teams take part in. 32 of them are the champions from the different Division I conferences around the country. The other 36 are described as being “at large” and are selected by an NCAA committee. Part of the appeal of the tournament is that there are no second chances, as a single loss sees that team eliminated.

Once the 68 teams are decided, they get put into four different regions and then get split into seedings from one to 16. They then play over seven rounds in three weeks, so there’s a lot of basketball crammed into March and early April. You could think of it like the Champions League for college basketball, but with all the games played in a very short period of time.

It all starts with the First Four round, where eight teams need to try and win entry to the First Round. Then comes the Second Round before we reach the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight stages. The semifinal stage is known as the Final Four and then the final game lets us see who this year’s national champion is.

This is a massively popular tournament and even people who don’t normally watch basketball tend to look out for the big games. It’s broadcast across several different TV networks meaning that millions of people tune in and try to predict who the winner is going to be. Apart from the exciting format, a lot of fans tune in to watch the stars of tomorrow, as many of the best players from these college teams will soon be moving to the NBA.

Who Might Win It This Year?

Basketball Players Mid GameSince betting on March Madness games is so popular, we can easily see the odds on offer for predicting the overall winner. At the time of writing, the UConn Huskies are the favorites on many sites but that could easily change once the games begin and we see what form the teams are taking into the later stages. The Huskies are looking for their sixth championship and they won in 2023 so they’re definitely a team to look out for.

One of the great things about this tournament is the way that it produces upsets. A look at the underdogs with the longest odds brings up names such as the Longwood Lancers, Saint Peter’s Peacocks, and the Charleston Cougars. The number 16 seeds are the biggest underdogs and it would be a major surprise if any of them reached the Final Four, but we just never know what is going to happen next.

All of the big college basketball teams have a long history of taking part in this event. If we look at the Iowa March Madness stats, we can see that they have only made it to the Final Four stage once.

This came in 1944 when they lost to the eventual champion Dartmouth at that stage. Iowa then had a long time away from the tournament until they started appearing regularly from 1985 onwards.

The history of this event goes back to 1939 and the UCLA Bruins currently lead the way with 11 wins but no single team has dominated it. After UCLA, the Kentucky Wildcats have won it eight times, the North Carolina Tar Heels on six occasions and several teams have five championships to their name. Given the number of college basketball programs in the US, many teams are still dreaming of winning the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

This Year’s Details

Now that we’ve looked at the basics, it’s time to delve into the details of this year’s March Madness. The games begin with the First Four round held on March 19 and 20. After that, the First Round is on March 21 and 22, with the Second Round on the following two days.

The Sweet Sixteen round is where we start to get down to serious business and fans across the US start believing that it might be their team’s year to win the championship. This round is to take place on March 28 and 29 this year. The Elite Eight round is then held across March 30 and 31.

The final weekend of March Madness where the championship is decided takes place in April rather than March. The Final Four stage and the championship game are both to be played at the State Farm Stadium which is in Glendale, Arizona. The semifinals are on Saturday, April 6 and the final game is on Monday, April 8.