The NCAA Tournament A.K.A The Big Dance
One of the truly great periods of office gambling and goofing off is upon us. The NCAA Tournament – a/k/a The Big Dance – spawns endless numbers of pools, bracket contests and game-watching on company time and bandwidth.
Yet spirits are high. And that helps work get done. This tournament is good for morale and you don’t have to know much to enjoy it. You can pick teams by a variety of measures: their nicknames, colors, conference, locale or if that school actually issued you a diploma).
New to the deal? Here are a few terms to keep in mind as the NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday and works its way through March Madness to the Final Four on April 1 and 3.
Bracket: This is the gigantic grid that lays out the matchups and potential matchups of the 64 teams in the field. People who are actually paid to study this stuff are called bracketologists. Why? Because this inexact science of predicting the tournament entrants and how they will be seeded is called bracketology.
The top line: Your No. 1 seeds. There are four, one for each region of the tournament. And those four are Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas and Gonzaga. Of course, this being sports – a home of needless complications – there are subregionals. That would explain why teams playing in Orlando, Florida, are part of the West bracket. On second thought, no, it doesn’t.
Beyond the arc: Shots made from behind this marking that is 20 feet, 9 inches from the rim are worth three points. They are also known as treys and 3-balls and are shot from an area called downtown, which is conveniently located beyond the arc. Great museums, galleries, wine bars. There is no uptown.
Referees: These are people chosen specifically to hose your team by doing everything wrong, all of the time. They are incompetent, biased, uninformed as to the rules and in need of a good vision plan. Unless your team wins. In which case they were brilliant, witty and judicious.
Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four: As the tournament field is whittled down, these are the nicknames for the number of teams that remain. Can you guess how many teams are in each one?
The press: No, not the one that is the enemy of the people. This is a defensive tactic, where a team employs defensive pressure in the backcourt in hopes of getting a turnover (though a cruller would be just dandy right about now).
So make sure your bracket is filled out. Cheer your team on as it fires up treys from downtown, sets picks, goes baseline and either rewards you or breaks your heart (and sometimes both).
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