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VIDEO/ March Madness begins tonight

Watch the highlights of this year in NCAA basketball in preparation for March Madness, which begins tonight as the first teams battle for their place in The Biggest Dance.

2012 NCAA Bracket from espn.com 2012 NCAA Bracket from espn.com

It’s that time of year again! The NCAA basketball tournament begins again tonight and 68 teams will battle it out for the National Championship.

The single elimination championship tournament has been played since 1939. The teams that are invited to play include 31 Division 1 conference champions and 37 “at-large” teams chosen by the NCAA selection committee, based on many factors like the team’s winning percentage, how difficult their schedule was, how they ended their season, etc. All of the teams are ranked and then placed into four regions, based on where the games in that region will be held. This year’s regions are the South, with the number one overall seed Kentucky and number 2 seed Duke, the East, with Syracuse in the one spot and Ohio State in the two, the West, led by Michigan State and with Missouri as the number two, and the Midwest, with number one North Carolina and number two Kansas.

While Kentucky, with stand-out freshman Anthony Davis, is heavily favored, they are in a tough region and the number one overall seed has only one once since the system was introduced. Syracuse will be missing their star Fab Melo, so does that mean they are out of the running? North Carolina, winner of five championships (third place), is in an easier region, but do they or Michigan State have what it takes to live up to the number one ranking? Will all or any of these teams make the Final Four?

Then, which teams will surprise and amaze us this year with unexpected upsets and runs of victories? Will we have another newcomer to the elite spots later in the tournament? Anything can happen.

Tonight’s games are between Brigham Young University and Iona and Miss Valley State and Western Kentucky, as part of the “First Four”. Vermont versus Lamar and California versus South Florida will be played tomorrow. This is a new process, introduced last year, which calls for the four weakest at-large teams and the four weakest conference winning teams to face off to determine who gets the last four spots in the bracket.

Known as March Madness, or The Big Dance, it is one of the most popular sporting championships in the US and millions of Americans fill out a bracket each year, predicting the winners of each of the 67 games. Many people are known to go on vacation, call in sick, or experience a drop in their productivity. There are expert’s opinions, algorithms, superstitions and hunches, but, with so many teams one game or one bad shot from dropping out of the tournament, upsets are sure to happen and there is a lot of luck mixed into the skill. Let the madness begin!