The madness begins today!

Many who know very little about college basketball will spend the next couple of weeks debating the merits of the Blue Devils, Tar Heels, Cavaliers, Wildcats and Spartans, that is if those teams are still around.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament gets into full swing today with 16 first-round games around the country and will be followed by another 16 games on Friday.

Millions of people have spent the last day or so filling out brackets which for many are funny-looking pieces of paper with lines, boxes and the names of colleges they know like Duke, Kentucky, Villanova and Seton Hall and ones they never heard of including Belmont and Wofford.

So here’s how this thing which has been dubbed “March Madness” works.  The 64 teams that begin play today are broken into four geographic regions: East, West, South and Midwest with the 16 in each seeded based on how good they are going into the tournament.

Mike Holloway Jr. of the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights celebrates during the second half against Prairie View
Mike Holloway Jr. of the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights celebrates (during the second half against Prairie View (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Number one seeds were awarded to Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Gonzaga, the later of that group being a private Roman Catholic University of about 7,500 students in Spokane, Washington.  This is the only time of year you ever about the school but the Bulldogs actually have built a basketball powerhouse and are in the tournament for the 20th consecutive year.

Anyway those four teams would be considered the best of the 64 and given a good chance of advancing to the final four more than two weeks from now in Minneapolis.

The only two things that are guaranteed in the 63 games that will take place beginning today is there will be upsets and I won’t predict them correctly.  The key to winning your office pool is to not have your final four teams lose early and to try and find those surprising schools who make unexpected runs like Loyola-Chicago last year.

Among those I think have a chance of pulling off a surprise or two are Murray State, Belmont, Iowa State and Liberty.

Anyway we have a bracket contest at Townsquare Media in which I selected Michigan State, Texas Tech, Tennessee and Kentucky as my final four with Tennessee winning it all.  None of them are top seeds which means this entry is certainly going to be a loser but if I get lucky then maybe I’ll at least finish ahead of some account executive in Grand Rapids, Michigan who had her 9-year old daughter do her bracket.

By the way watch out for Florida State.


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