For some people, today marks Thursday, March 20. But for a lot of Americans, today marks one of the greatest days of the year. Today marks the start of the Madness…March Madness, that is.
At the very least you’ve heard your guy friends or boyfriends talking about “who they have to win what game.” For a good chunk of girls, this basketball jabber goes in one ear and out the other. But this time around, you may want to reconsider why you should care about the NCAA tournament.
Let me just start by giving a brief run down of what this chaos entails. March Madness (also known as the NCAA tournament or “the dance”) is a 64-team tournament that is divided into four regions: East, West, South and Midwest, with 16 teams in each region. If you lose, you go home. Each team is given a seed, or a ranking, from 1-16, (1 being the best, 16 being the “may the odds be ever in your favor” underdogs). In the first couple rounds, it is set up so that the lower seeds play the higher seeds (No. 1 vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, and so on). So when you’re watching the games or someone is talking about, for example, a No. 5 vs. No. 12, you’ll know that number 5 is the team expected to win. Based off of these numbers, you’ll also know how big an upset is (say, a No. 14 beats a No. 3 team). There are always upsets… that’s why they call it March “Madness.”
Next, it is important to know the basics of the rounds. They go as follows:
The first round is Round 2. I don’t know why they start with Round 2, as opposed to Round 1, they just do. Don’t fight it. So whoever wins the first round of games advances to the next round also known as Round 3. From there, the winners keep advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, then Elite Eight, then Final Four and finally the National Championship game.
So what’s up with these brackets? People all over the country fill out these March Madness brackets predicting and betting on which teams they think are going to advance in every round. When I say all over the country, I mean ALL OVER the country—offices, fraternities, friend groups, families and most importantly, the entire city of Las Vegas. Most people pay an entry fee to fill out a bracket and participate. Then the person who predicts the most games correctly wins the money.
This year, Warren Buffett is even offering $1 billion to anyone in the country who submits a perfect bracket… the odds of getting a perfect NCAA tournament bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. It’s more likely that you win the Powerball jackpot three times in a row. Basically, it’s about as likely as baby North West being named the Most Valuable Player.
Now you have a basic understanding of how the tournament and March Madness works. But why should you care? Unless you’re one of the select few die hard basketball fans out there that are women, this time of the year probably just means green beer and spring break to you.
Here are my top five reasons you should care about the NCAA tournament:
1) You don’t want to be that “dumb girl” who knows nothing. Come on, educate yourself a little bit so you can have an opinion and bicker with the boys! Who knows, maybe you can even start up a conversation about your bracket with that guy you’ve been searching for an excuse to talk to.
2) An estimated 50 million Americans join office pools, which means around $1.2 billion are lost for each unproductive work hour in our country during this time of the month. If this tournament is causing this much commotion, it has to be worth watching.
3) 88% of the money the NCAA makes is made from this tournament. Basically, this tournament allows other sports to compete that don’t bring in as much money as men’s basketball… aka all women’s collegiate athletics. (Breaks my heart, but you have to tell it like it is.) Thanks gentlemen for giving us girls a chance to play too.
4) It isn’t just one game like the Super Bowl. This tournament goes until April 8. That means there are that many more opportunities for you to make a statement and have some fun with it, or that many more opportunities for you to look stupid.
5) Most importantly: It’s fun. Women are seriously outnumbered in this field, and even on the playground in kindergarten there were few better feelings than beating the boys. Plus, if you fill out a bracket and end up beating them, it gives you endless bragging rights (some girls flip a coin for each game to guess who wins… and end up winning all the money. It’s a complete crapshoot but why not give it a try).
Today’s the day all the madness officially starts and the games begin so why not give it a try? At the very least, pretend to by incorporating some of the lingo listed above into your arguments. If you want some help on what teams to talk about, just go with Arizona, Michigan State, Kansas and Duke as your Final Four. The guys won’t know what hit ’em.