The Blueprint

March Madness

Michael Mates

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The best time for all college basketball fans is upon us: March Madness.

Six of 32 automatic bids into the NCAA tournament have already been clinched. Many mid-major schools make up those six teams, including Lipscomb, Radford, Loyola Chicago, Murray State, and UNC Greensboro. Although five of the six teams that have sealed their spot in the tournament are from smaller schools and may lose in the early rounds of the tournament, the Big Ten Conference Champions, the Michigan Wolverines, have punched their ticket to the Big Dance. Many larger conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big East, Southeastern Conference (SEC), and Big 12 have their tournaments this week. The Big Ten conference played last week at Madison Square Garden, and the Big East tournament plays there this week.

On March 10, a staggering fourteen championship games will be played in many conferences, including the ACC, Big 12, and Big East. In the ACC, the tournament crown is up for the taking. Many experts believe that Duke, Virginia, Miami, and North Carolina have the best chance of winning the tournament. The Big 12 tournament is also a wide open race. Kansas, Texas Tech, and West Virginia are the favorites, but other teams could pull off the upset. In the Big East, there are two powerhouses: Xavier and Villanova. Although these teams have separated themselves from the others in the Big East, the three through seven seeds still have a good shot at winning the tournament.

On Selection Sunday  — March 11 — there will be five more championship games played. Most notably, the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and the SEC will hold their championship games on Selection Sunday. The AAC favorites are Cincinnati, Wichita State, and Houston. The SEC tournament teams that could pull off the win are Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida.

On Selection Sunday, a Committee of ten members from the NCAA will choose 36 teams to receive at-large bids into the NCAA tournament. These selected 36 teams with be combined with the 32 automatic bid teams, and seeded one through 68. Once the selection is complete, the committee will assign the top four teams as one seeds, the fifth through eighth teams as two seeds, and so on until they have seeded every team.

Joe Lunardi, bracket predictor of ESPN, has predicted that eight teams will make the tournament from the SEC, Big 12, and ACC. He also thinks that there will be six teams from the Big East. Other conferences such as the Pac-12 and Big Ten are thought to have four teams in the Big Dance. Finally, the American is predicted to have three teams make the tournament.

Although there are one in 9.2 quintillion odds that a perfect bracket is filled out, around 70 million brackets will be filled out between Selection Sunday and the start of the first round of NCAA tournament on March 15. Many upsets take place throughout the tournament, yet a 16 seed has never beat a 1 seed, and a 5 seed has never won a National Championship.

Now, only one question remains. Who will be listening to the famous song, One Shining Moment at the end of the night on April 2 after a hard fought National Championship Game?