When Does March Madness Start?

Some casual basketball fans may not be aware of the basic facts about March Madness. It is the tournament that determines the champion of US collegiate basketball and is followed by millions of Americans.

How the Tournament Works

The tourney starts sometime in March (in 2008 it commenced on March 18). A total of 65 teams participate. First there is the play in game. It is contested by the number 64 and 65 seeds respectively. The loser will be eliminated. That leaves 64 teams.

The 64 teams are then divided into four regions. Each one has 16 teams. The format calls for the highest seed to play the lowest. For example, the number 1 plays number 16, number 2 plays number 15 and so on. This is used in all four groups. The facts about March Madness show shat even with this system, underdog and upset wins do take place.

After the games, 32 teams will remain. The 32 teams will play against each other. That will trim the competition down to the “Sweet Sixteen”. Again they play (highest vs. lowest) with the winners advancing to the Elite Eight.

Next is the Final Four and the championship. Although the bulk of the tournament takes place in March, the championship can take place in early April. Although the field is huge, a team actually needs to win only six games to be crowned champion.

How Teams Get in the Tournament

When evaluating the facts regarding March Madness, knowing how the teams get in is important. The NCAA Division I (where the teams come from) has 31 conferences. The teams that prevail will get in the tournament. The teams usually play the deciding games a week before March Madness. The exception is the Ivy League. They don’t have a post season so the conference champion gets the slot.

The other 34 teams that get in are determined by the NCCA Selection Committee. There are many factors that determine who gets in. Almost always though, those included will come from conferences with strong teams. These include the Big 12, Big East, ACC and many others. It is also the committee that decides which teams go into which bracket.


The facts about March Madness indicates that TV has played a big role in boosting its popularity. The games started broadcasting in 1952 and within a couple of years the finals were aired throughout the country. By the 1980s, even the opening round games were being shown. The competitive nature of the game led to an increase in number of viewers.

Today the games are also being telecast on the Internet. It continues to draw in millions of viewers. Although there is natural interest among followers of the colleges, there is also growing interest from other countries like Canada and Australia.

The facts about March Madness show that the format isn’t that complicated. In spite of the seeding, it still provides a lot of excitement. In addition, the games give viewers a chance to root for their schools and glimpse future basketball superstars.

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