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March 17, 2008

The Girl's Guide to March Madness

Here is an easy guide for getting in the game! With the right know-how and a few tricks, even the most inexperienced 'fan' can win the big tournament pool.

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ncaa mens basketball tournament

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Photo Credit: Chris Bernacchi/SportPics//WireImage.com

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1. What is March Madness? It’s more than that cooped up feeling you get from being in the house too long. It’s also the NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Championship – a single elimination tournament held each spring featuring 65 college basketball teams. Also referred to as the “Big Dance,” it takes place over a three week period at different sites across the US, and the national semifinals or “Final Four,” has become one of the country’s most prominent sporting events.

2. Bracketology 101: What’s a bracket? In addition to being something that can help hang a shelf, it’s also the way teams are organized and pitted against one another in the tournament . . . and it also happens to be how you can win $5 million by playing Yahoo! Sports Tourney Pick’em game.

3. Selection process: Can you pick any team, what are the rules? On “Selection Sunday,” the NCAA Selection Committee announces the 65 team field and seeds them according to their ranking and performance. Teams can either play their way in by winning their conference championship, or they can be selected at large for having fared well during the regular season.

4. Picking your teams: Survival of the Fittest. Everyone knows a tiger usually beats a rabbit, but not necessarily in the NCAA tournament. While it’s generally a good bet to pick lower seeded, better teams in the early rounds, don’t be bogged down by stats and records – feel free to pick your teams based on uniform color or mascots, as the tournament is rife with upsets each year. To learn more, go to Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com for more information about specific teams.

5.Cinderella and the Big Dance? I thought this was basketball! Fans love when Cinderella shows up to the big dance, but it has nothing to do with fairy tales. The tournament has its own language, and here's how to get in the conversation:
- A team that's not expected to win but advances through the tournament is called a Cinderella
- The tournament itself is called The Big Dance
- The third round of the tournament is called the Sweet Sixteen
- The fourth round is called the Elite Eight
- The final four teams play in, you got it, the Final Four
- When a team wins the tournament, they literally cut down the nets

6. Root for the Little Guy The tournament represents the best of the best in college basketball, but generally the teams seeded '11' through '16' are written off long before the tournament begins. Most of these teams will head home after a lopsided loss in the first game, but usually at least one will pull off an 'upset' win over a better school. While this will ultimately ruin a lot of brackets, fans love an underdog.

7. Knowledge Isn't Necessarily Power You'll run into a lot of know-it-alls while watching the tournament. The truth is, you could guess on all your picks and you'd probably still beat at least one person who watched every game this year. Even if your bracket is busted (the teams you selected get eliminated), Yahoo! Sports offers a Second Chance game worth $1 million.

8. Watch Wisely There are a lot of games in the tournament, played all over the country at all times of the day...and night. There are few surprises and few can't-miss moments in the first round, and the second round isn't much better. It's exhausting to try and watch every game. Do yourself a favor and watch as little as necessary until the real action starts in the Sweet 16. This is where you'll find the best teams, and the ones who will ultimately win.

9. Listen to your heart – They don’t call it women’s intuition for nothing! If your gut is telling you a team will win, listen to it, even if the stats or your friends say otherwise.

10. Healthy competition is important to all relationships, so match up your picks against your partner’s. Check online throughout the month to see who is ahead. Bragging rights keep the romance alive, especially when they are yours!

By Yahoo! Web Life Editor Heather Cabot


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