March Madness Lingo And Terminology

March Madness Lingo And Terminology

March Madness is a longstanding tradition for NCAA Division I men’s basketball. Since 1939, the nation’s best college basketball teams have competed in a tournament, now known as “March Madness,” with the end goal to win the National Championship. The tournament takes place every spring, captivating the attention of millions of viewers worldwide.


List of March Madness Terms

At-large bid: An invitation given out to 36 teams that did not win their respective conference tournaments but impressed the selection committee enough to earn a spot to compete in the national tournament.

Automatic bid: An invitation to compete in the national tournament that is automatically awarded to the 32 teams that win their respective conference tournaments nationwide.

AP Ranking: A system used to rank the top 25 Division I teams across the country, based on the ballots of 65 different sports journalists. However, the ranking system does not impact the selection process for the tournament.

Bracket: The method of organizing teams into the four regions for the tournament and setting up matchups between teams based on their seeds. The bracket serves as the overall schedule for the NCAA basketball tournament.

Bracketology: The art of predicting which teams will be selected to participate in the tournament and which seed each team will receive..

Bracket Buster: When a team that is not expected to win ruins one’s bracket by beating a team that the individual predicted would advance far into the tournament.

Bubble: A team that is on the “bubble” is one that is on the cusp of being selected to compete in the tournament but is not guaranteed a spot.

Cinderella: A “Cinderella” team is one that is not expected to advance very far in the tournament but exceeds expectations and makes a significant run at the championship.

Elite Eight: The fourth round of the tournament where only eight teams remain competing.

Final Four: The second to last round of the tournament, where only four teams remain competing, and the winners advance to the national championship.

First Four: The four games that precede the first round of the tournament. The winners of each game earn a spot to compete in the first round.

First four out: The top four teams that are not selected to compete in the tournament. Instead, these teams are usually placed in the top four seeds to compete in the NIT Championship tournament.

Going Dancing: Oftentimes, when teams are selected to compete in the tournament, they exclaim, “we’re going dancing!” This is a reference to March Madness’ nickname, “The Big Dance.”

Last four in: The last four teams selected by the committee to compete in the NCAA basketball tournament.

March Madness: The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament that takes place in March and April every year. The term was not associated with the tournament until 1982.

NET Ranking: NET rankings is a relatively new system that the NCAA selection committee uses to aid them in determining which teams should make the tournament. This ranking system uses advanced metrics along with a “Quadrant” system to rank every Division I team.

One and Done: A term often used to refer to the nature of the NCAA tournament, where one loss results in a team being eliminated from the tournament.

One Shining Moment: The song that plays right after the tournament is over, accompanied by some of the best highlights and moments from the games.

Quadrant: In the NET ranking system, the result of every team’s regular season games are divided into four different quadrants. Each quadrant is broken up into their opponent’s NET ranking, along with where the game was played. For example, a Quadrant 1 victory can be against an opponent ranked 1-30 if the game was at home, 1-50 if at a neutral site, and 1-75 if away. Teams want as many Quadrant 1 victories as possible and as little Quadrant 3 and 4 losses as possible.

Region: The March Madness bracket is broken up into four distinct regions: East, West, Midwest, and South. For the first four rounds of the tournament, teams compete in one of the four regions. The fourth round is the regional championship, also known as the Elite Eight, and the winners of each regional advance to the Final Four.

Seed: Numbers assigned to each team that decides where they will be placed in the tournament bracket. Each team is assigned to a region and given a number from 1 to 16 (four of each seed or one per region). Within each region, the highest seed plays the lowest seed (for example, the number 1 seeded team plays the number 16 seeded team). The selection committee decides the seed of each team based on a variety of factors, including strength of record, strength of schedule, and the value of the team’s wins and losses.

Selection committee: A committee of ten members selected from different schools and conferences nationwide that are in charge of selecting, assigning seeds to, and organizing teams into the tournament bracket.

Selection Sunday: The Sunday before the First Four every year where the selection committee announces which teams have been selected to compete in the NCAA basketball tournament.

Strength of record (SOR): A measurement of the value and difficulty of a team’s wins and losses for the season.

Strength of schedule (SOS): A measurement of the rigor of a team’s schedule. Strength of schedule is determined based on the quality of the opposing teams, especially considering the opposing team’s win percentage.

Sweet 16: The third round of the tournament, where 16 teams are left competing and the winners of each game advance to the Elite Eight.

The Big Dance: Another term for the NCAA basketball tournament.