The month of March rings the arrival of March Madness. It is that time of the year when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's basketball tournaments are held. The 'madness' in the name captures the essence and excitement around the tournament.
The tournament is a single-elimination one, with 68 teams fighting to survive three weekends of games to be crowned national champions. From the 68 teams, 32 receive automatic bids for winning their respective conferences. The other 36 teams are given bids based on their performance during the season. Out of all the teams, only 16 teams qualify through the first weekend, termed the 'Sweet Sixteen.' The second weekend further narrows this number down to eight (the 'Elite Eight') and then even further narrows to the 'Final Four.' These four combat for a spot in the finals, with the two victors moving to play the national championship game.
The tournament is the brainchild of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen. The idea was implemented in 1939, along with the support of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The 68 teams are usually divided based on geography - eastern, western, midwestern, and southern US. They are placed into brackets that lay out the path to victory. Each team is ranked within the region. Higher-ranked teams usually play lower-ranked teams in the beginning. The games are played simultaneously at neutral courts across the country. To date, UCLA (the University of California at Los Angeles) holds a record 11 national titles.
March Madness is scheduled to begin on March 14, 2021 (Sunday) and end on April 5, 2021 (Monday). The finals fall during the Easter Sunday weekend, thereby pushing the last match to Monday. The NCAA bracket will be handled differently because the entire tournament will be held in Indiana. The top four ranks will be dealt with the same, as will the first four. The changes will come in for the rest of the bracket. This time, teams will be placed in the bracket without the usual consideration of geography but according to their rankings. This is called using the 'S-curve' to complete the bracket.
Arrangements have been made for teams to practice at the Indiana Convention Center, where multiple courts have been set up inside the venue. The various venues where the matches will be played include Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Simon Skjdot Assembly Hall in Bloomington, and Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.