March Madness is the popular term for the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. Its rise in popularity has been in large part due to betting and bracket pools. These are often played online or among a group of friends or colleagues or co-workers as they try to pick the winner of every game in the tournament. President Obama would famously do his bracket from the Oval Office in front of the ESPN cameras.
The tournament involves 68 teams with eight of them facing off in the First Four to reach the field of 64 teams for a single-game knockout tournament. Teams are placed into four regions with the four best teams given a No. 1 seed in a respective region. The top seed in each region plays the 16 seed in the first round, the two plays the 15 and so on.
UCLA holds the record for most titles with 11 with Kentucky next with eight. Virginia won the 2019 title just a year after becoming the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round of the tournament.
The first NCAA Tournament was held in 1939 with just eight teams invited. Since 1950 the field has expanded on multiple occasions to allow for more teams and more game for TV revenues. Currently CBS and Turner split the TV contract, and that deal runs until 2024.