For college basketball fans, March is the best time of year.
The NCAA Tournament, and all of the breathtaking shots, amazing dunks and fantastic finishes that come with it, is less than two months away. Fans hope this year’s theatrics live up to those of past tournaments.
Here are seven things to know about March Madness 2022:
Selection Sunday is March 13
It all begins with Selection Sunday, when the 68 teams that will make up the tournament are decided. This year’s Selection Sunday for the men’s bracket will take place on March 13, with time and broadcast information to be announced later.
Of the 68 teams, 32 automatically qualify because they won their conference tournaments, guaranteeing them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The rest are chosen by the selection committee, which gets together to make its picks on Selection Sunday.
For teams hoping to field a memorable postseason run, it all starts on Selection Sunday.
Ohio will host the First Four
The eight lowest-seeds, the four lowest automatic qualifiers and the four lowest at-large teams, open the NCAA Tournament with a play-in round called the First Four. The winners of these games qualify for the 64-team bracket.
The First Four games traditionally take place in Dayton, Ohio, at the University of Dayton Arena, and that will be no different this year.
The eight teams will play the men’s First Four games on March 15-16, kicking off a month of furious, exciting basketball.
The most important games are in April
Though March is the headliner, what all fans yearn to watch are the games that actually are played in April.
The remaining four teams compete in the Final Four leg of the men’s tournament April 2-4 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to determine which ones will meet in the national championship game.
The Final Four often features the tournament’s most competitive, exciting games, as each team involved fights for a shot at the national title, and it’s not just a boost for the schools competing. It’s also a huge deal for the city that gets to host.
Officials expressed overwhelming joy last April when the New Orleans Local Organizing Committee began the one-year countdown to the Final Four, with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards calling New Orleans an “easy sell” and noting that bringing in approximately 75,000 visitors makes “a tremendous difference for our city and state,” L’Observateur reported.
11 separate states will host games
One intriguing aspect of March Madness is that the NCAA Tournament stretches across multiple states throughout the country.
Eleven separate states, including New York, Indiana and Wisconsin, will host men’s NCAA Tournament games this season. Among them, Texas, California, Illinois and Pennsylvania get to host the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight contests, some of the tournament’s main draws.
Fans hope their brackets still haven’t been busted by this point, though very few make it this far. For those who still want to make winning picks, they can take advantage of sports betting bonus offers to wager on the tournament’s biggest games.
Baylor will look to repeat as champion
Reigning champions often deal with massive expectations, and that’s been no different for the Baylor Bears.
After downing Gonzaga to win the 2021 National Championship, Baylor’s goal all season has been to claim another title, and it will have its shot during the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Through most of its regular season stretch, the Bears have looked the part, going 15-0 before suffering their first loss.
To succeed in claiming a consecutive title, Baylor will have to outdo other heavyweights like Gonzaga and Duke, but it is still considered one of the top favorites to take home the glory.
CBS Sports recently listed the Bears fourth most-likely team to win this year’s championship, citing odds by Caesars Sportsbook.
This year’s underdogs will still chase Villanova
Whichever team ultimately wins out in March Madness, it will be tough to match Villanova’s exciting run in 1985.
That year, the No. 8-seed Wildcats became the lowest seed ever to win it all, upsetting Georgetown in the national title game. It was a Cinderella storyline tailor made for college basketball lore, and the narrative has been relayed time and time again since.
Surprising runs by underdog teams are a staple of March Madness, but will a program surpass Villanova this year for the best underdog performance in college hoops history? We can’t wait to find out.