After March Madness being canceled last year due to COVID-19, thankfully, it returns in 2021. The format won’t change much from previous years, but as bettors and fans gear up for March Madness - it has a chance to be the unique NCAA Tournament in recent memory.

What is March Madness?

March Madness is the term for the single-elimination tournament that determines the winner of the NCAA men’s college basketball season every year. The tournament starts in mid-March and usually runs until the first week of April.

The first NCAA men’s tournament was held in 1939 with only 8 teams involved. Since then, it has been expanded to include more and more teams. By 1985, there were 64 teams invited to the tournament. Since then, there have been a few minor changes to include 4 more teams (The “First Four”) that play before the First Round, but it is still basically a 64-team format.

In 1982, CBS broadcaster Brent Musberger coined the phrase “March Madness” on the air during the network’s coverage of the tournament, and the name has stuck ever since.

How Are the Teams Selected?

A 10-member committee is assigned to monitor conferences and teams throughout the season, and they convene in New York City a week before the tournament starts to begin the selection process. For the next five days, the committee seeds (or ranks) all 68 teams and then splits them into 4 regions, with each region having teams seeded 1 st  through 16 th .

This process culminates on the Sunday before the tournament begins. That day is recognized as Selection Sunday, where all of the teams are placed into what is called a Bracket and revealed to the public. This is a televised event that is extremely popular among teams, players, fans, and sports bettors.

When is March Madness 2021?

This year’s version of March Madness is scheduled to begin on Thursday, March 18th, and end on April 5 th , with the championship game being played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

How Will the Tournament Be Different in 2021?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic , the entire tournament will be held in the state of Indiana, with most of the games being played in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is a big deviation from previous years when the tournament was held at various sites across the country.

There will be multiple courts set up inside the Indiana Convention Center for teams to practice, and teams will have their own hotel floors with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms. All transportation to and from the games will be secure as well.  

The Importance of March Madness for the Schools

The NCAA Tournament is arguably the most popular and exciting sporting event in the United States. In this age of social media, branding is more important than ever for companies, individuals, and even schools. What better place to showcase your university or college to potential recruits than on a massive stage like March Madness?

Athletes and coaches like to be associated with winners, and teams that advance the farthest in the tournament get more national exposure and more opportunities to grow their brand. It may seem hard to believe, but even some non-athletes tend to choose which schools they attend based on a school’s athletic program’s success.

Who is Favored in March Madness?

Currently, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Baylor Bears have an edge on the field in terms of betting odds. Gonzaga is the favorite at +280 and Baylor is listed at +300 at BetMGM Sportsbook. Michigan is next at +700. All other teams have 10/1 or longer odds to win the tournament.

It is generally a good idea to avoid betting on favorites in March Madness due to the tournament’s general unpredictability. Upsets are common, and it can be difficult for even the strongest teams to win 6 games in a row, which is what is required to win the tournament.

A decent strategy is to seek a top seed that appears to be vulnerable due to either injuries or a drop in their level and go against them by picking a lower seed in their section. This is one way to find more value as opposed to backing one of the teams that are already popular among the media and fans.

How Can You Participate in March Madness?

Since the tournament is extremely popular, you will find brackets on popular sports websites like ESPN, CBS Sports, and Yahoo Sports. You can fill out numerous brackets, join or create groups, and even compete against all other users for a grand prize.

You can also bet on the tournament at various online sportsbooks. Whether you like to bet on individual games, the outright tournament winner, or which teams will make the Final Four, sportsbooks like BetOnline and MyBookie have you covered. Check out reviews on these sportsbooks and other top betting sites at Safest Betting Sites .

Other Terms Associated with March Madness

Bubble Teams – These are the teams vying for one of the last few remaining spots in the tournament. You will hear this phrase often in the weeks before Selection Sunday.

Big Dance – This is another synonym for the NCAA tournament instead of March Madness. Its origin goes back to 1977, when Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire said, “You gotta wear the blue blazer when you go to the big dance.” His team won the championship that year, and the term caught on.

Sweet Sixteen – The 16 teams are remaining after the first two rounds of the tournament are completed.

Final Four – The phrase for the last 4 teams in the tournament. Before the pandemic changes were made, this was almost like a separate event because it brought the winners of the 4 regions together and was held at a different location.

Enjoy March Madness 2021

One year was more than enough without the NCAA Tournament. Even if you’re not betting on the event (though you should be!), it’s awesome to see the tournament return. Fill out a bracket, relax, and enjoy the best event in sports!