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The Sports Section 3/1/2012


Sharpen your pencils and get your bracket forms ready because March Madness is almost upon us.  The annual NCAA Division I basketball championship will be decided in New Orleans at the Superdome on Monday, April 2.  The defending champions are the Connecticut Huskies, who beat Butler 53-41.

The Madness kicks off with Selection Sunday on March 11 at 6 pm on CBS, when the official pairings will be announced.  Last year the field was expanded from 64 to 68 teams with the addition of an extra round, the "First Four".  These teams will play in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 13 and 14 to determine who advances to the traditional round of 64, which begins on Thursday, March 15.  Following the round of 64 is the round of 32, the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and then the Final Four.

Of the 68 teams chosen, 31 receive automatic bids, 30 as Division I Conference Tournament Champions, and the Ivy League, which has no league tournament championship.  The other 37 teams receive at-large bids from the NCAA selection committee.  This leads to the annual debate of who should have been picked, who shouldn't have been picked, and what's wrong with the whole selection process.

Teams not selected for the NCAA tournament may immediately have the opporunity to be invited to other tournaments, most notably the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).  A field of 32 teams will vie for that championship game in Madison Square Garden on March 29, 2012.

The NCAA Women's Final Four Championship will be held on April 3 in Denver.  The defending champion is Texas A & M, who defeated Notre Dame 76-70 last year.


A few interesting facts and figures from the men's tournament:

The tournament began in 1939.

The coining of the phrase March Madness has been a source of controvery and lawsuits.  Early credit is given to Henry V. Porter of Illinois, who used it to describe the Illinois state high school basketball tournaments in 1939.  It was used officially by the Illinois High School Association until 1982 when sports broadcaster Brent Musburger used it during NCAA tournament coverage.  Others used it on air and in print, leading the IHSA to file suit and both organizations trying to trademark the phrase.  The two sides agreed to form the March Madness Athletic Association, a joint holding company.  The IHSA holds the high school rights, the NCAA the rest.

The Slam Dunk shot was banned by the NCAA in 1967 and reinstated in 1976.

The 3-point field goal was introduced in 1986.

The last Consolation (3rd Place) Game was played in 1981.

2001 was the last time all four #1 seeds advanced to the Final Four.

The last time no #1 seeds made it to the Final Four was in 2006.

Austin Carr scored the most points in a tournament game - 61 - in 1970 in a first-round game in which Notre Dame beat Ohio University.  Bill Bradley scored 58 points in 1965 in the Consolation Game for Princeton, who defeated Wichita State.

The most NCAA Championship titles belong to UCLA - 11.

A really good source for tournament records and statistics is this link:

Who's going to make it on selection Sunday this year to the Big Dance?   Who's going to be on the bubble?  Who are your Cinderalla picks?  Best of luck with your brackets!!

Coming up:

NFL Free Agency - March 13, 4 pm

The Masters - April 5 - 8, Augusta National

NFL Draft - April 26-28 - What are the Browns going to do?


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