College Basketball: March Madness begins with Selection Sunday March 11

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Tomorrow is the first day of March, and for millions of college basketball fans across the country, that means one thing — March Madness.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament will dominate the sporting world for the next four weeks. It all begins with Selection Sunday March 11.

This is where the tournament is put together by the NCAA selection committee. They are charged with determining which teams make the final 68, in what region they will play and where they will be seeded. Thirty-one conferences will place an automatic qualifier in the NCAA Tournament field. The remaining 37 at-large bids will be handed out by the committee.

This year, there will be four opening-round games — called the “First Four.” They will take place in Dayton, Ohio, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 13-14. They will feature the last four at-large selections for two games and the last four automatic qualifiers in two more.

The main bracket games will begin at eight sites all around the country March 15. By the end of that weekend, the field will be trimmed down to 32 teams. Those 32 will advance to four regional sites beginning March 22. The East Regional will be held in Boston. The Southwest Regional is in Phoenix. St. Louis will host the Midwest Regional, and the Southeast Regional will be in Atlanta.

By the final day of the month, only eight teams will remain in the tournament. They will all travel to New Orleans for the national semifinals at the Louisiana Superdome.

Now, here comes the ironic part. March Madness won’t officially conclude until April. The championship game will be played April 2.

Now that you are armed with the tournament timeline, you have about 10 days left before you have to fill out those bracket sheets. I’d suggest doing some homework before you decide which team you put down as your champion. Or, you can always resort to the “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” thing. Either way, it’s madness.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Feb. 29-March 6, 2012, issue

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