Every spring, college basketball fans fill out their brackets and spend hours glued to their screens. They're ready to watch teams compete for the NCAA National Championship trophy and the chance to cut down the nets. If you’re unfamiliar with the tournament, you may be wondering — what is March Madness? Continue reading for a breakdown of the popular annual sporting event!

Table of Contents

A. What is March Madness?
B. March Madness History
C. Rounds
D. 2022 Tournament
E. Prescription Basketball Glasses, Sunglasses, & Goggles at SportRx

What is March Madness?

The NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, more commonly known as March Madness, is a single-elimination tournament starting in March that features 64 collegiate teams. It’s the pinnacle of college basketball, where the best men’s and women’s teams compete to see who the national champion will be. Thirty-two teams receive an automatic bid from winning their respective conference championships, while the remaining slots are granted to at-large bids. A Selection Committee, made up of athletic directors, conference commissioners, and more, picks those teams. They also determine the seeding and where the teams appear on the bracket, broken up into four regions.

So, why do people love it? March Madness gives every team a chance to win it all. There are upsets, underdog stories, all of it. The tournament is what it says it is — madness. A lower seed, a team who didn’t have as good of a season performance, could knock out a #1 seed team, one that excelled more and has a higher rank. (Case in point: #16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County beat #1 seed University of Virginia in 2018). You never truly know who is going to take home the championship. And being a single-elimination tournament, each game is a must-win situation.

March Madness History

Created in 1939, the tournament initially had eight teams participating. The University of Oregon men’s basketball team beat Ohio State 46–33. The field grew to 16 teams in 1951 and continued to grow till its current size. The term “March Madness” was first used by an Illinois high school official in regard to basketball, but became more widely known and associated with the NCAA tournament in 1982 when it was used by CBS broadcaster and former sportswriter Brent Musburger.


Game play occurs Thursday through Monday, with four play-in games, known as the First Four, kicking off the men’s and women’s tournaments. Featuring the bottom four teams in the automatic and at-large bids, the winners from those four games round out the official March Madness teams. This gives teams that may not always be able to make the tournament a chance to participate and fight to take home the championship.

After the First Four, 64 men’s and women’s teams make it onto the March Madness bracket. After the first round of play, the remaining teams make up the Sweet Sixteen. From there, the Elite Eight, then the National Semifinals. The final game is the National Championship.

2022 Tournament

For the 2022 event, the first official round of the men’s tournament begins on March 17 and the first round of the women’s tournament begins March 18. The championship games will be played on April 4 and April 3, respectively.

Games can be viewed on multiple TV channels, as well as streamed online.

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