The National Collegiate Athletic Association has picked 68 Division 1 schools to participate in its annual tournament, known by most as "March Madness". Every year schools from all over the nation, from big to small, compete to go from their place in that group of 68 to becoming the one and only National Champion.
The NCAA tournament, regarded by many as the second biggest sports related event in America, draws interest from across the nation and all over the world. Many people succumb to the mania of March and end up calling in sick to work, or break appointments to keep track of what's going on in arena's around the land. Many tune in to see which Goliath program goes down to a wee David school from out of nowhere. It happens every year, so the story lines from the tourney are compelling to more than just the super-fans.
Florida, out of the Southeastern Conference, is the tournament's overall favorite, and holds the 1 seed in the Southern Bracket. The Gators are scheduled to play the winner of the Albany-Mt. St.Mary's play-in game Thursday afternoon in Orlando. The winner of that play-in game will hold a 16 seed in the bracket. Syracuse, at No. 3 is also a serious contender.
Wichita State finished the season with a perfect 34-0 record and earned the Midwest region's No. 1 seed, but not without some people calling them an easy target for powerhouse teams like Duke, the 2 seed in the bracket, and Louisville the 4 seed in the midwest. Louisville was the overall tournament champion last year and Coach Rick Petino would like to bring the honor back to the bluegrass state. Friday night in St. Louis, the Shockers will meet the winner of the Cal Poly-Texas Southern play-in game.
In the East, Virginia, who won the ACC tournament, is the region's No. 1 seed. The ACC is arguably the nations toughest basketball conference, and many were not expecting Virgina to emerge as its champ. The Cavaliers hope to show why they are legit by winning the entire thing, starting with a win over Coastal Carolina on Friday night in Raleigh, N.C. Michigan State, the 4 seed, has been on a roll lately and is expected to keep it up in the tournament.
Arizona holds the No. 1 seed in the West region and will take on Weber State in a matchup Friday afternoon in San Diego. NBC Sports says the West Region has some serious 'all hell breaks loose' potential, and will probably be the region that ruins everyone's bracket this year.
Many of the teams had up-and-down seasons and as we have seen in the past, anything is possible in the tournament. Oklahoma State the No. 8 seed and Baylor the No. 2 seed are two other teams to watch from the west.
In one compelling storyline, Billionaire Warren Buffet, has offered a billion dollar prize to anyone who fills out the perfect bracket and predicts every game correctly. Although many have tried to do this in the past, no one has ever done it, and Buffett must feel that isn't going to change soon.
"People realize it's a long shot,'' says Jeff Bergen, a mathematician at DePaul University in Chicago, told USA today. "They don't realize how long.''
Bergen says the chance of randomly predicting the outcome of the main draw's 63 games is one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.
Still, millions of fans fill out the brackets every year, and get caught up in the action and excitement of NCAA basketball.
According to SB Nation, last year's title game drew over 23 million viewers.
Click here for a 2014 bracket to keep up with the action yourself.