March Madness is the nickname of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, a single-elimination tournament to determine the U.S. national champion of men’s college basketball. The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament is also sometimes referred to as March Madness, but it is not officially marketed this way by the NCAA. The men’s tournament features 67 games between 68 teams. The main tournament bracket includes 64 teams. Four teams must earn a spot on the main bracket by winning one of four games, which are called play-in games and known as the First Four. The women’s tournament features 64 teams. Because the tournament is single-elimination (meaning a team is eliminated upon losing a game), the field of teams is reduced by half each round, from 64 in the first round to 32 in the second round, which is followed by rounds named after the number of teams left: the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four. The final two teams play in the National Championship game. March Madness is one of the most popular sports events in the U.S. It is especially known for exciting games, early-round upsets, and underdog teams (called Cinderellas) winning their way deep into the tournament. The tradition of filling out a tournament bracket by predicting which team will win each game is popular even among many non-basketball fans. There are many organized and informal competitions to see who can fill out the most accurate bracket, with many people placing bets on the outcome in a betting pool with their friends or coworkers. The tournament is also sometimes called the Big Dance, as in The winner of this game earns a ticket to the Big Dance. When is March Madness? March Madness begins around mid-March and takes place over a course of about two and a half weeks. The final game, the National Championship, is usually held during the first week of April. March Madness 2021 begins on March 18 and ends with the men’s NCAA Championship Game on April 5. March Madness 2022 will begin on March 17 and end on April 4. The 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament begins on March 15 and the National Championship game will be held on April 4. The 2022 women’s tournament will begin on March 18 and end on April 3.
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