Between Now and March Madness

Between Now and March Madness

We are less than one month away from the first round of the men's 2022 NCAA college basketball tournament. The madness is rising, and now is the time to get in on what's happening in college basketball.  

I won't be going over everything that has happened in college basketball. All you need to know is that nobody is a lock to win it all this year, and there are likely to be just as many upsets as there were in last year's covid tournament, so don't entirely count on the top teams like Auburn, Gonzaga, Purdue, etc. It's anyone's tournament this year.

What I'll be doing here is letting you know what to look out for between now and that glorious, borderline spiritual first day of the tournament.    

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(Arash Markazi/ESPN)

Conference Seeding & Bracketology (Now)

Something you'll need to do is consistently keep an eye out for the conference standings. I know it may seem tedious, but it's essential to keep track of what position your team will be playing in the upcoming conference tournaments. Depending on your team's position means, you may have to take a "sick day" from school or work to ensure you don't miss your team tipping off at noon EST, or if you're in my time zone, 9 am PST. You may even have to look at your team or other in-conference schools the next 5-6 games left in the regular season and whether you should leave any hope for a great seeding position and potential matchups.

Joe Lunardi is like John the Revelator; somehow, he predicts the NCAA tournament bracket down damn near perfect. I would also say he probably has the only unofficial Ph.D. in "bracketology" (Sorry, Andy Katz, but you have more like a bachelor's degree compared to Joe). Now is undoubtedly the time to check Joe's bracketology page regularly. Games are happening every day that is almost impossible to keep up with, which means things are constantly shifting. But Joe does a great job of updating us on how things are shaping up and what the actual tournament bracket may look like. This can be checked and done on a temporary daily basis to get you excited for March Madness.

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(Shutterstock/Dima Sidelnikov)

First Conference Tournament Games (March 1st, 2nd, etc.)

March Madness wastes no time getting started by having some of the first conference tournaments beginning on March 1st. The ASUN, Big South, or Sun Belt tournaments may not seem like much compared to the more vital powerhouse conferences, but trust me, some excellent quality basketball gets played during this time. These schools don't get the same at-large bid recognition as Kentucky or Kansas, so these games are genuinely "Win or go home." A nice little bonus is a lot of these games will be played during the traditional work hours of the weekday, so it'll be great to catch some post-season action while in the office or sitting through Psych 101. As the days go by, more and more tournaments will be well underway; in fact, on Friday of March 4th, we will have around 14 conference tournament games. March comes a lot sooner than we realize sometimes. I should note the very first conference tournament game is on February 28th in the NEC, but I probably won't catch it unless I see it's a one-possession game with only a minute left.

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(Jonathon Gruenke / The Virginian-Pilot)

Last days of the Regular Season (March 5th and 6th)

A lot gets decided upon this day. Conference seeding gets entirely shaped up and determines most teams' positions in their conference tournaments. Not only that, these games are generally some of the biggest games of the year, such as Duke Vs. UNC, UCLA Vs. USC, Texas Vs. Kansas, to name a few. These final games also carry profound significance for teams either on the bubble or trying to increase their seeding positions for the NCAA tournament. Some of these wins or losses can and will determine a school's chance of getting into the big dance. Not only that, but we also get some conference championship games on these days, such as the OVC, the Big South, and the MVC. So right away, we will know which of these smaller schools make it to the greatest tournament in sports. So don't skip out on these championship games during all these massive regular season-ending games; your school could very well be playing them.  

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(Streeter Lecka/GettyImages)

Conference Tournament Week (March 7th-13th)

The madness really starts this week. We have a few championship games right out the gate on Monday and many more as the week goes by. The real powerhouse games start early Tuesday, with the ACC starting their tournament with the 10-15 seed teams playing. Admittedly these are not the brightest teams the ACC offers, but these games will not disappoint. These schools will be playing for their post-season lives as well. We'll also have six championship games that day, with the biggest one probably being the WCC and Gonzaga likely to claim their 9th title in the last ten years. After that, starting Wednesday, we will pretty much have every conference launching their tournaments off all day long. Conference tournaments don't get as much love as the NCAA tournament itself, but these games are highly competitive. The atmosphere can be exceptional if the location is correct, as the Greensboro Coliseum for the ACC. These conference games will be playing simultaneously as other conference games, so pick the game you feel you can't miss or make sure you have multiple TVs set up not to miss out. The majority of these tournaments will wrap up on Saturday and a few on Sunday, and then the real work begins. Here is a more visual representation of all the conference tournament brackets with dates, times, and networks.

Selection Sunday (March 13th)

There's not much to be said about this day/event. After a grand conclusion with a heavy-filled week of basketball, we are rewarded knowing who plays who, their seeding, where, what time, and what their path looks like to win it all. This is when the homework starts in finding out how to complete our brackets. Whether it be done with intense research and finding every little stat that's out there or with just flipping a coin, this is the time to win your office's tournament pool money to pay for your next vacation.  

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(Photo by Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar)

First Four (March 15th & 16th)

This is just a taste of what's to come. I know these games can sometimes be blown off but let's not forget, last year, UCLA had to play in Dayton to make it all the way to the Final Four. These games are great appetizers before the main course on Thursday. In the meantime, if you still need to get excited about the upcoming games, my go-to is watching a few colleges basketball-themed 30 for 30 documentaries. You can't go wrong with Survive and Advance, the ultimate March Madness 30 for 30 documentaries. But find some time for "Requiem for the Big East," "The Fab 5", and "I Hate Christian Laettner."      

Kimani Lawrence of the Arizona State Sun Devils and Justin Simon of the St. John's Red Storm battle for the ball during the second half in the First...
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

NCAA First Round (March 17th)

It begins. I won't go too much into this because I'll likely write up another blog for this specifically. Just find a way to get four TVs (or an HDMI Multi-viewer), get work/school off, and find a group of fun people to watch sports with.  

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(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)