How Does March Madness Work?

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March is the particular time of the year when basketball fans eagerly await their favorite team to compete for the crown and the Cinderella stories that come out of it. Based on the committee’s announcement on Selection Sunday, fans are itching to fill their bracket predictions with their picks. How does March Madness work?

March Madness consists of the best 68 teams in the men’s NCAA Division I Basketball competing in a sudden-death tournament. Losers go home, and winners live to fight another day.

This article delved into what makes March Madness click, team selection, format, and the scoring system.

How Did March Madness Get So PopularHow Did March Madness Get So Popular?

After the cold winter months comes spring, where rising temperatures set in to remove the winter chill. Frozen grounds grow softer and yield to plants, animals come out of their hibernation, and it marks the return of the most awaited sports event in America – March Madness. There are many reasons why March Madness became famous around the globe.


One of the main factors in March Madness got its name is the single-elimination, or sudden death, a format where the loser of each match is eliminated from the tournament. Cinderella teams can go on an unexpected run to beat favored teams to win the championship.

In the 1985 edition, No. 8 Villanova Wildcat beat the second-seed Memphis Tigers in the Final Four to reach the finals. It was a face-off with the No. 1 team, the Georgetown Hoyas, led by Patrick Ewing. Neither team gave an inch, and in the end, the Wildcat was on top 66-64. The Wildcat is the lowest-ranked team to hoist the March Madness trophy.

Crazy Schedule

The tournament has a hectic schedule; 67 games are played in four weeks. It takes just over four days to play the first 48 games, and over three games are often played simultaneously. There are 68 competing teams from four regions; talents are spread out, creating exciting matchups.

Stars Get Made

March Madness is a platform where players get noticed, earn a ticket to play in the NBA, and become icons.

Here are some March Madness legends currently making waves in the NBA.

Steph Curry

Steph is a Wildcats alum from Davidson College. He led the No.10 seed Davidson on upset wins over Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin in 2008. Davidson almost won over the No. 1 seed Kansas but fell short by two in a 59-57 loss, eliminating Davidson from the Final Four. Curry had an insane 52.8 percent from three-point attempts during their run.

Anthony Davis

Davis led the Lakers to win the 2020 NBA Finals in his first year, the same as he did in Kentucky in 2012.

Davis’ 29 swats are tied for the second-most rejections in a tournament next to Jeff Withey from the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Davis limited Withey’s production to five points and seven rebounds while making six points, 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and three steals in a 67-59 win in the title game. The win secured his spot as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Division I.

Paolo Banchero

Banchero was the first pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2022 NBA draft. He is included in the Rising Stars lineup to play an exhibition game before the 2023 All-Star Game.

Banchero donned the Duke Blue Devils uniform but lost to the University of Carolina Tar Heels 81-77 in the Final Four. Banchero opted for the 2022 NBA draft yielding his college eligibility.


College sports fans are the most ardent and devoted supporters of March Madness. Fans are in their element, showing up at games or hosting watch parties at home with friends and relatives. If their team loses, they are emotionally invested in filling out tournament brackets to pick March Madness winners.

What is the Tournament Format for March MadnessWhat is the Tournament Format for March Madness?

March is just around the corner, and fans are eagerly awaiting the most-watched single-elimination tournament in America, which draws a lot of bettors from all over the country.

Initially, there were 64 teams, but the NCAA added four teams to compete in “play in” games to complete 68 teams.

How Does March Madness Work?

The 32 Division I Conference champions automatically receive a berth. The Selection Committee picks the remaining 36 teams and discloses the teams included in the bracket, the schedule of games, and the seeding of teams on Selection Sunday. For 2023, Selection Sunday is on March 12.

The play-in teams compete on March 15 and 16, and the winners are included in the 64-team bracket. The First Round of 64 teams takes place on March 17 and 18; the 32 winners advance to the Second Round and will play on March 19 and 20.

Only the Sweet 16 teams (March 23 and 24 winners) and Elite 8 teams (March 25 and 26 winners) remain in the second week. The Final Four teams face off on April 1, with the winners squaring to determine the 2023 March Madness Champion on April 3.

How are Teams Selected in March MadnessHow are Teams Selected in March Madness?

The 32 NCAA Division I Conference Champions are automatically represented in the March Madness Tournament and the remaining 36 teams, called at-large bids, are picked by the Selection Committee.

Selection Committee

The Selection Committee has 12 regional sports administrators composed of athletic directors and conference commissioners from NCAA’s Division I men’s and women’s sports. The committee comprises men and women who meet year-round, discussing tournament administration, team evaluation, team officials, and tournament sites.

March Madness Selection

The 36 at-large teams’ chances of gaining entry are borderline. All speculations are answered during the announcement of the Selection Sunday bracket.

The selection process lasts five straight days, starting from Tuesday before Selection Sunday.

No hard and fast rules can determine a team’s eligibility. The members go through tons of data, analyze game results, game location, offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.

A member cannot vote and is asked to leave the room if the individual represents the school being discussed and deliberated. Member cast their votes by secret ballot.

What are Seeds in March MadnessWhat are Seeds in March Madness?

Seeding ranks the team from 1 to 68. The strongest team in the tournament is ranked number 1, while the weakest is 68.

The teams are distributed into seed lines, 16 in total. Each seed line is composed of four teams. The four powerful teams are ranked 1 to 4 and grouped into seed line #1, and the teams ranked 5 to 8 are in seed line #2 up to seed line #16 for teams ranked 61 to 64.

Each team from each seed line is distributed into the four regions: South, East, West, and Midwest, so that seed lines will be spread in every region, ensuring a power balance across the field. Each region is divided into four pods, drawing in four teams per pod.

Seed line #16 teams and the teams ranked 65 to 68 will play in the First Four games, marking hostilities’ start. The winners complete the 64 teams in the March Madness bracket.

An example of a bracket grouping in the Midwest: pod 1- seeds 1, 8, 9, 16; pod 2 – seeds 4, 5, 12, 13; pod 3 – 3, 6, 11, 14; pod 4 – seeds 2, 5, 7, 10.

How Does Scoring Work in March MadnessHow Does Scoring Work in March Madness?

The March Madness tournament has six rounds, and points are awarded based on the round a player picks a winner. Fans keep up with the action by predicting the winners in each round. The player with the most points wins the pool.

The odds of a perfect bracket are like finding a white cat in a snowstorm.

Selection Sunday Announcement

Wait for the announcement of the NCAA committee on the participating teams, seedings, and schedule on Selection Sunday to be sure that team placements on your bracket are updated. 

March Madness Scoring System

Some office pools award a point to the correct prediction regardless of which Round. The bettor with the most picked winners at the end of the tournament wins the pot.

ESPN records the brackets by adopting a 10-20-40-80-160-320 scoring system. Since each point value is multiplied by 10, this system is identical to the standard 1-2-4-8-16-32 system. More weight is given to the winner.

Focusing the attention on the championship game removes a bettor who could not predict the tournament winner. There’s a 1-2-3-4-6-10 scoring method that gives people an advantage who chose the tournament champion, but it does not remove players who did not.

You can add a twist to the scoring system by awarding bonus points to upsets.

Play-in Games

Don’t bother with teams involved in play-in games, focus your picks on the 64 teams.

But if you’re interested in going the whole route of 68 teams or seven rounds, there are betting stations that will accept your wager. Your entries should be in by Tuesday morning before the play-in games start.

Wrapping Things Up: How Does March Madness Work?

The single-elimination basketball contest has no room for mistakes, a single loss means the team is out of the tournament.

Every team has a shot at doing well in the tournament. One of the March Madness winners was the No. 8 seed Villanova Wildcat in 1985, the lowliest seed to win the crown.

March Madness tournament is more than just the basketball games; it’s an American custom practiced by fans to support their favorite teams.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

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Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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