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March Madness, explained

If you’re not sure what all the commotion is about, read this

<p>March Madness will be played for the first time since 2019 beginning March 18 after being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.</p>

March Madness will be played for the first time since 2019 beginning March 18 after being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Every time March rolls around, there’s always going to be talk — especially around college campuses — about this elusive thing called March Madness. If you’re not a big hoops fan, you might not be too familiar with the tournament, so we’re here to help you out. Here’s everything you need to know about March Madness just in time for the 2021 tournament.

What even is March Madness?

March Madness is the branded name for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. This is a single-elimination tournament in which 68 teams compete to win the National Championship in the sport over a period of just a few weeks. All 68 teams are situated within four regions for the tournament — the North, South, East and West — and this year, each team will play their respective games in Indianapolis, Ind.

How do they pick who plays?

Every Division I team plays in one of 32 different conferences, and Virginia plays in the ACC. Right before March Madness begins, every conference plays its own tournament to determine a winner. The ACC Tournament was last weekend and Georgia Tech was crowned the winner after defeating Florida State. The Cavaliers’ opportunity to win the tournament was squashed when an unnamed player on the team tested positive for COVID-19 right after the first round, forcing Virginia to bow out early.

Although the Cavaliers were unable to participate in further rounds of the conference tournament, they still received a spot — or “bid” — in the NCAA Tournament. Teams can receive bids in one of two ways. In a normal year, 32 bids are automatically awarded to the winner of each Division I conference tournament, and the remaining bids are given at the selection committee’s discretion. This year, however, only 31 bids were automatically awarded because teams in the Ivy League conference did not have a season.

What is a seed?

When teams are given bids to the NCAA Tournament, they are all given a numerical ranking, called a seed, which determines which teams will play each other. So when somebody says that the Cavaliers are the No. 4 seed, it just means that they are ranked No. 4 in their region — which, this season, is the West.

When will Virginia play this year?

As the No. 4 seed in the West, the Cavaliers will play the No. 13 seeded Ohio in the first round of the tournament at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 20. The exact dates and times of the remaining games beyond that are still to be determined, but each game after the first will be played between March 21, the start of the second round, and April 5, the date of the NCAA Championship game.

Are we good?

We are good, but we are also playing in a very competitive region. Our first game against Ohio will be a tough test, but one we can overcome with the right combination of offensive and defensive magic. If we win that, we’ll play either Creighton or UC Santa Barbara, and beyond that — barring a big upset — we’ll likely face No. 1 Gonzaga. We played Gonzaga earlier this year and were practically buried by them, so it’s hard to see us advancing beyond that competition.

Are we good enough to win the Championship again?

If we can manage to beat Gonzaga, the sky's the limit. As Cavalier fans, we can only hope that the Bulldogs get eliminated before we would face each other.

How do I watch the games?

If you have cable TV, you’ll be able to watch all of the games on CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV. Virginia’s first game against Ohio will be broadcasted on truTV. All of the games can also be streamed on NCAA March Madness Live if you log in using your cable provider — so be sure to text your parents ahead of time to ask for the email and password.


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